my boss wants me to deep-clean the office, company is going to ruin my credit, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss wants me to deep-clean the office

I recently started working as an administrative assistant. The job description and interview process made it clear that some cleaning duties would be necessary, and I was okay with that. However, a month into the job, my boss asked me to make a schedule for when I intend to “deep clean” the office, and told me they used to have cleaners come thrice weekly, but stopped to save money. This means I am responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, kitchen, and high traffic meeting rooms. Additionally, colleagues come up to my desk and rudely tell me to go do things like pick up trash in the parking lot.

I don’t look down on cleaning as a profession but this is a busy office (dozens upon dozens of people come in and out weekly!), the business is healthcare-adjacent, and we’re in a pandemic. I don’t feel qualified to clean and sanitize to the standard we should, plus I have regular admin duties to deal with. I have been an admin before and I happen to know exactly how much office cleaning costs in our area, and I know that the company has the money to pay for professional services. Is what they are asking me to do unreasonable?

Yes. Try saying this: “When I accepted the job, I understood there would be light cleaning, such as X and Y. But deep cleaning the bathrooms and kitchens or picking up trash from the parking lot isn’t work that’s normally part of an assistant job, and that’s not work I’m comfortable taking on. We need a professional service to handle those jobs, like most offices do.”

If your boss won’t back down, at that point you’d need to decide how much you’re willing to push back and whether you still want the job if he insists that this is now part of it. But it’s reasonable to try this and see what happens.

Read an update to this letter

2. Can I ask about salary before an interview?

I have a job but am looking for a new opportunity due to work culture and company growth. I recently had an interesting conversation with an internal recruiter for a company I really like, but the recruiter talked almost the whole time. I had to interrupt them to even tell them about myself! Needless to say, we had no time for questions and I was unable to ask about salary expectations.

Well, they must have really liked my three-minute spiel about myself because I was asked for a second round interview. However, I don’t want to proceed without knowing an expected salary range and waste anyone’s time. Is it impolite to email them before scheduling the interview?

Nope! This used to be a thing that you had to dance around (which was always absurd and never made sense) but the norms on it have really changed in recent years. When you’re setting up the interview, it’s fine to say, “We didn’t have a chance to touch base on salary in our initial conversation. To make sure we’re on the same page before we move forward, can you tell me the salary range for the role?”

Be prepared, though, that they might turn the question back on you and ask what you’re looking for, which is annoying but really common (although also less common than it used to be) unless you’re in one of the small number of states that now require them to tell you.

3. My company may ruin my credit report

A couple of months ago, I took a business trip for my company and was given a corporate credit card, issued under my name. As instructed, I filed the expenses (hotel, rental car, etc.), which were approved. But the company is more than 30 days late paying the credit card bill of $1,500, and the credit card company informed me that it’ll be reported on MY credit report after 60 days.

When I informed the finance department, they said the payment was sent but there was an issue with payment details and their account rep is “clearing it up/working on it.” That was a week ago, and the account still shows a late payment and the credit card has sent a collection notice and called me three times.

I’m extremely concerned because I don’t want my credit score to take a dip. I’m in the middle of applying for a mortgage and I’ve worked hard for the last couple of years to improve my credit score and pay down debt.

I’ve had a corporate card at two former companies and I’ve never had this happen. It’s deeply concerning because I feel like I can’t trust my company and it puts me in a weird position of trying to hold them accountable as an employee without jeopardizing my job. Is there any action I can take? What’s the best way for me to address this?

If you haven’t already, loop in your boss immediately and explain that your credit is about to be harmed, which is going to jeopardize the mortgage you’re applying for, that the finance department hasn’t been responding with any urgency, and you need her help to get this fixed ASAP. Often a manager’s intervention will light a fire under another team that you can’t do on your own. If your boss isn’t the type to do that, you shouldn’t feel weird about being extremely assertive with the finance people yourself — as in calling (or going by, if you’re in person) every morning and at the end of every day to keep leaning on them until it’s resolved. Use the words, “This is jeopardizing my mortgage and must be fixed ASAP. How can I make sure it’s paid today?”

It’s utter BS that you need to plead and cajole them into fixing this, and if it’s possible for you to do your job without a corporate card in your name, I’d seriously consider it canceled once this is done.

Read an update to this letter

4. Do “tell me about a time when…” questions really help?

I recently had a phone screening for a new role and the recruiter asked basically all “give me an example of a time…” questions. I understand one or two for specific needs but this was around four or five. Do these questions really prove much? I feel like often times candidates end up stretching the truth or racking their brains frantically trying to think of examples. I can understand for specific instances and needs to ask these but this was for a general more entry-level role. Do these questions really help determine if a candidate is a good fit?

Yeah, those questions can be highly differentiating among candidates. As an interviewer, it’s a lot more useful to hear how someone really has operated in the past — in real situations with real complexities and challenges — than to just talk about how they’d approach a more hypothetical interview question (which people can often just bluff their way through without it lining up with how they’d really handle the situation if it happened in real life).

That’s especially true if you then have a genuine conversation about their answers, including asking probing follow-up questions — “X must have been a tough element of that; how did you handle that?” … “how did you approach Y?” … “what made you choose Z?” … and so forth. That makes it much more likely that you’ll get beyond surface answers and into the nitty-gritty of how the person truly operates.

You’re right, though, that people don’t always have these examples at their tips of their tongues. So it can be really helpful to ask candidates to think through some specific examples ahead of time and come prepared to discuss them, so they don’t have to think up examples on the spot.

5. Am I accidentally mixing up my project deadlines?

I was wondering if you could please weigh in on something that has come up with a few of my freelance clients recently.

If the deadline of a project is, say, the 1st of February, would you take that to mean that the project is due by close of business on that date, or that it should be submitted so it can be reviewed on that date? Recently a client asked me to finish a project by a particular date, and emailed me at 6 am that morning asking where it was. I told her I would have it over by close of business that day, and she sounded a little surprised but didn’t comment any further on it.

In the future I’ll be clearer when setting expectations with clients, and I’ll clarify at what point on a day they’d like work submitted, but what’s your take here?

Typically if someone says a project is due on February 1, that means by close of business on February 1 unless something else is specified. Emailing you at 6 am (!) to find out where it was is bizarre.

Getting into the habit of specifying “close of business on (date)” isn’t a bad idea when you’re dealing with deadlines, at least until you’ve established norms with any given person. That will also help avoid that thing where some people think that February 1 means any time up until business opens on February 2, which can cause problems if you assumed you were getting it by 5 pm and planned to look at it that evening.

In any case, the weirdness here was with her, not you. (And you might just ask her about it directly: “My understanding was that I’d send this to you by the close of business on February 1, but when you emailed me looking for it before the start of business that day, I wondered if we had miscommunicated about the deadline you needed.”)

{ 492 comments… read them below }

      1. RJ*

        Absolutely. Admin work (including light cleaning), and office cleaning are two entirely different jobs and skill sets.

        1. MusicWithRocksIn*

          Admin work light cleaning should be things like clearing the coffee cups and crumbs off the conference room table between meetings or taking down Christmas decorations or clearing off a desk when a new person starts. I will even accept cleaning a spot off the office carpet right after a guest spills coffee on it so it doesn’t set or dusting the IT room. Cleaning a bathroom at all is over the line for me.

          1. Jaybee*

            Agreed. I’ve never worked as an admin but if I saw either of the admins in our department doing a ‘deep clean’ of anything I’d be concerned about a lot of things – starting with the financial health of the company.

            1. Clisby*

              Me too. I’m trying to remember our admins doing any kind of cleaning. Maybe clearing off food if there was some kind of department lunch, or something? We didn’t have kitchens or break rooms, so it’s not like they’d have been cleaning up there. And definitely not bathrooms. There was a janitorial service for that.

              1. Carp*

                The biggest “deep clean” our admins did was defrosting the office fridge and cleaning out files from a misused storage closet. We, like well-run places, had maintenance and custodial staff for all offices, common areas, and restrooms. Our admin would have screamed the roof off the place and had our boss literally running for his life if she had EVER been asked to touch a toilet. There was another admin in another department who would have done it, because she felt ashamed to be in the role and less-than, which translated to her doing every tiny, little task that anyone asked her to do without complaining, because she thought that’s what it meant to be “just a lowly admin” (her words, not mine).

          2. Rayray*

            As someone who once did admin work, I also didn’t mean the light cleaning mostly cause it kept my micromanaging crazy boss off my back, but it did drive me bonkers how grown adults would just leave their cups and stuff on tables for me to clean up. Props to all the wonderful admin workers out there who don’t let that get under their skin. I still don’t think you should clean up after adults who are in a professional setting, but honestly, cheers to you!

          3. Saberise*

            It didn’t actually say light cleaning. But nor did it say deep cleaning. Obviously they were intentionally vague about it. I’m an admin asst and I would have taken that to mean light cleaning myself. Since it looks like the vagueness was intentional I think she’s going to have a hard time getting out of it since after all it says cleaning in the job description. /sarcasm Maybe that is why they needed a new asst?

              1. Allison Wonderland*

                Right. Since they are no longer using outside cleaners, it sounds like the assistant is responsible for ALL the cleaning.

          4. ArtsyGirl*

            A front desk office admin is going to be in business clothes which are not suitable for picking up trash and scrubbing toilets as well.

            1. Egmont Apostrophe*

              So she should show up in total dirty work clothing and just sit there doing her regular work dressed like that until cleaning time at 4 pm.

        2. Lacey*

          Yes, in every small office I’ve been at the admin did some rather light cleaning – and it was mostly actually just restocking paper towels and what-not, not actual cleaning. And we hired people to come in once a week or twice a month and do real cleaning.

          At the larger offices it was just a full time cleaning crew that handled all of it.

          Once we had an office manager who decided cleaning was not part of her job. It literally was, but any time she got tired of something she would decide it wasn’t her job and make someone else do it and then rant at them for not being team players because they didn’t want to do something that would constantly interfere with their actual work. She tried it with the cleaning, said we would all take turns having to do a deep clean of the office because she wanted to end our cleaning contract to save money. Instant revolt.
          We kept our cleaning contract.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            OldExjob under the new general manager ended our plant watering contract to save money. Then they decided to just let the plants DIE.

            A few of us ended up taking some of them home. I got a pothos, the peace lily, two Chinese Evergreens, and two umbrella plants. A coworker took the banana tree. But just letting them die was shitty. What were we supposed to do, just watch them slowly slip away?!

            1. Dana Whittaker*

              Elizabeth, apparently my replacement (either the 2nd or 3rd person they tried lol) did not realize that watering the plants was part of the office manager job description, and just …. didn’t. At all. Ever.

              There were plants that had been there for over 30 years that just died because Owner 2 wanted to “go in a different direction with the position”, and Owner 1 was close to retirement and tired of having the battle.

              My first replacement lasted two days, because she only wanted to do accounting, which was about 6-10 hours a week, depending on the time of the month. She was not going to water the plants, or order office supplies, or replace paper in the copier, or walk around once a week and make sure there were fresh PostIts and full staplers at certain spots in the office, or any of the 9 million other things I did to ensure the office ran smoothly.

          2. JUSTJACKNOW*

            Its actually in a book on how to save money in six months or less to eliminate real plants and watering contracts in your office. Along with paying your bills six months late.

        3. L.H. Puttgrass*

          What I hate about this (other than everything) is the contempt it shows for both admin and cleaning work. Like they’re both just “menial” jobs that don’t require any particular skill, so why not have someone hired to do one also do the other? Heck, you might as well just have the cleaning staff answer the phones, right?

          1. Tupac Coachella*

            Exactly what I was thinking! Cleaning properly, especially when sanitizing is involved, is an actual skillset and the people who do it are experts. This office needs to treat those experts (and OP) with some respect and acknowledge that you can’t just throw their duties onto a person trained in a completely different field and expect the same results. Anyone can change paper towels. Not just anyone can properly sanitize a bathroom used by 40 people a day.

            1. LifeBeforeCorona*

              Cleaning an office or any public bathroom is the hill that I would choose to die on. I can’t handle vomit or anything that comes out of a human or animal. One of my friends is a housekeeper and was a hero among the staff because of her iron stomach. There was never a situation too unspeakable for her to clean.

            1. Librarian of SHIELD*

              Yeah, I’m getting big “women clean at home all the time so of course OP will know how to do this” energy from this boss.

              1. CupcakeCounter*

                I’m a woman and I don’t clean.
                I’ll wash dishes after I cook and do my own laundry but I have a cleaning person who comes weekly. I told my husband before we got married that the second I have my student loans paid off and make over X, I will have a regular company/person do the “real” cleaning. It was my main chore growing up and I hated it and was terrible at it so it became a goal.
                I even pay for a person to clean the family lake cottage three times a year (before Memorial Day, July 4th-ish, and after Labor Day) and that is my cleaning contribution for the year.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  Same. I hate cleaning, and I have a lot of emotional baggage around it because I was raised by people who felt that cleanliness was indicative of how good a person you are (with an undertone of a woman who didn’t know how to clean being weird and undesirable).

                  My husband vacuums, and he cooks/I pick up the kitchen. I do most of the laundry. We are going to be able to have a regular cleaning once we’re comfortable having others in our home again, and I cannot wait. I would never take a job that expected me to clean the office in any way (other than to pick up after myself, obviously – I don’t leave my dishes/crumbs/mess for others to clean up in the office).

          2. Clisby*

            Yep. More than 20 years ago, I was talking to a couple of guys I worked with, and one was saying how happy his retired (in Florida) parents were because they had gotten such a great cleaning person. 20 years ago, she charged $10 an hour. And they were glad to pay it. Guy #2 was saying $10 is a LOT to pay for unskilled labor. I said, “Guy #2 – unskilled labor is if you hire me to clean your house. Paying somebody who actually knows how to clean a house is paying for skilled labor.”

        4. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          Even if LW felt qualified to do the job, she’s supposed to do it all by herself? A cleaning crew would have 3-4 people for an hour or two to do a deep cleaning of an office the size she describes. It would take her 6-8 hours to do that by herself. Is the office gonna function without a receptionist for an entire workday every couple of weeks? Is she supposed to just spend every other Saturday doing this? Is she getting overtime?

          Ignoring the fact that it’s not the job she signed up for, it’s an absolutely crazy requirement. That kind of cleaning in a decent sized office is not a one person task.

          1. Observer*

            it’s an absolutely crazy requirement. That kind of cleaning in a decent sized office is not a one person task.

            At least not one person in a few hours.

            1. Cheap Ass Rolex*

              I also wouldn’t assume you can just jump into deep cleaning without knowledge of how to safely use different kinds of cleaning products – this can be dangerous!

              OP, do not put up with this BS, and if you do end up walking over it, please be explicit in the Glassdoor review so a whole cycle of admins don’t get duped into wasting their time with this company. But I hope you can hold firm and just be explicit that this is wildly unreasonable, and they’ll cave and hire a professional.

              1. Carp*

                There is also the knowledge of how to safely handle blood, urine, feces, vomit, needles, used tissues (bathroom and office), etc. and how to safely dispose of bodily fluids. Even when we’re not mired in a highly contagious neverending global pandemic, LW is being asked to expose herself to human waste and, thus, possibly communicable diseases. There is specialized training, equipment, and gear for custodial work. Everywhere I’ve worked, only custodians have actually been allowed to clean bathrooms, big spills, and even vomit (it happens) – the rest of us weren’t allowed to touch it. Run for the hills, LW.

          2. ArtsyGirl*

            Also, a lot of the cleaning cannot happen when the rest of the staff is in the office (vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc) so I wonder if they are expecting her to work a normal 9 – 5 and then turn around and clean the office afterwards when the rest of the staff leaves.

            1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

              That’s what I was thinking. Either multiple nights a week of working late, or coming in weekends. Which is complete crap either way. Absolutely inappropriate, and as others point out, potentially dangerous

            2. AntsOnMyTable*

              Exactly. They had a cleaning service, which is presumably multiple people, coming in three times a week and they expect her to manage that on top of her regular duties??

        5. Random Bystander*

          Not to mention, full office cleaning really shouldn’t be done in office attire (usually janitorial staff either wears a uniform or full casual attire–and for good reason). It’s one thing to dust or run a stick vac or other minor cleaning that doesn’t involve cleaning chemicals; it’s something else altogether to hazard cleaning chemicals.

          1. PT*

            I had a job in fitness where I was responsible for the operations of the department and whatever that meant. If it was maintenance or cleaning, I did maintenance or cleaning. If it was front line service, I did front line service. If it was back office admin or knowledge work, I did back office admin or knowledge work.

            I had a locker with several different changes of clothing and a caddy with a full complement of shower supplies to use in the locker room, which we had open access to. The next few jobs I had where I had to wear business attire but sometimes got tasked with dirty dusty work, like tracing ethernet cables behind all the desks or cleaning out old offices? It was not nearly as easy. I was covered in filth, had no change of clothes, and there was no shower so I had to stay dusty and sneezing the whole rest of the day.

    1. LMK*

      Agreed! My favorite part was that they used to have cleaners three times a week, and they now think the administrative assistant should pick up the slack. Talk about chutzpah!

      1. Fikly*

        You caught the truly horrifying part – the business is healthcare adjacent and the spaces haven’t been cleaned in how long???

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        All I could think was “Well, I’d be asking how much they’d be increasing my wage to add those duties on.”

        1. The OTHER Other*

          This employer fired their cleaners to save money but now want their admin to do it. This only makes sense if they are paying their admin less than the cleaners. And people are ordering her to pick up trash in the parking lot? This job sounds terrible. Great Resignation, indeed!

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I’d be tempted to tell the colleagues “yep, I’ll clean the trash in the lot right now”, go out to the parking lot, get in my car, drive away, and never come back. (But most likely wouldn’t actually do it, because I’d need the pay and the benefits.)

          2. Gray Lady*

            It also makes sense if they don’t expect the admin to put in any overtime and just squeeze it into her normal duties. It doesn’t cost them any more (in cash) to pay a higher or equivalent paid person to do cleaning instead of something else, if they’re not actually paying her any more than she was paid before. Obviously it costs them in her reduced productivity, but surely she can squeeze in a little more cleaning! /sarc

          3. SimplytheBest*

            ?? If you’re paying for an admin and paying for cleaners, getting rid of the cleaners saves you money, regardless of how much you’re paying the admin.

            1. pancakes*

              If the admin gets, say, $25/hr and the cleaning people were getting $15/hr, the cleaning costs more than it used to. If the admin doesn’t have enough admin work to occupy their time and is capable of and willing to clean as well as a professional cleaner, I suppose this arrangement could save money, but that’s a big if.

          4. Carp*

            At my old place, the front desk admin nearly walked out after someone came up to her and had this exchange, which I overheard from my office:

            Coworker: “Hey, there’s a pair of sunglasses laying in the parking lot.”
            Admin: “Okay?”
            Coworker: “….”
            Admin: “Yes?”
            Coworker: “They’re laying in the parking lot.”
            Admin: “Oh, they’re not mine.”
            Coworker: “No, they need turned in to lost and found.”
            Admin: “So, you saw the sunglasses, which are still laying in the parking lot, and you are saying they need turned in to lost and found.”
            Coworker: “Yes.”
            Admin: “It sounds like you know what to do then.”

            Coworker complained to Admin’s boss, who had been pushing back hard on time wasting and silly clerical tasks (like the admin being emailed a one-page Word document to print and walk across the building to deliver to someone, when that someone had a printer literally RIGHT NEXT to their office door), nearly went through the roof. But it always amazed me, in a bad way, how people treated and viewed admin staff.

            Unfortunately for LW, their boss is the reason for this mess and needs to DTMFA.

      3. Worldwalker*

        Cleaners, plural. So at least two people. Three times a week. At least one hour per time. So at least six people-hours of cleaning. And I’ve never seen a cleaning crew only there for an hour, so double or triple that.

        So they want an untrained, unskilled, inexperienced person spending 12+ hours out of 40 per week … cleaning. In a healthcare-adjacent business.

        I’m a website designer (among other things). I could not be, say, a database administrator — despite them being jobs of vaguely similar nature (they both involve computers) and similar levels of skill required … because it’s DIFFERENT skills! Just because you (boss you) look down equally on both administrative assistants and cleaners doesn’t mean their skills are interchangeable!

        OP, time to start polishing your resume. This is only going to get worse.

      4. MCL*

        That in particular was the cherry on top of this ridiculousness. That somehow a busy admin would have time and expertise to replicate work that was done at a high standard 3x per week before. Cleaning is a ton of work, and now she’s supposed to do it on top of her regular admin duties? Nah. They want the office cleaned, they need to hire cleaners. Admin should only be doing really minimal stuff, like wiping down a conference table after a meal-centric meeting or putting new paper towels in the dispenser, or running vinegar through the office coffee pot once in a while.

      5. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        This is an expectation a lot of people still have, even in the 21st century, of “the admin,” aka the office mommy–that they (usually she) will clean and pick up after the supposed grown-ups in the workplace. It certainly runs counter to the lip service of administrative *professional* or administrative *partner*. It’s one thing for an admin to, say, tidy a reception area where visitors leave coffee cups or water bottles behind. Washing dishes, running vacuum cleaners, dusting, and heavy-duty scrubbing are the work of professional cleaners who are trained in the job and the use of chemical cleaning supplies. Back in the day, “light cleaning” in a secretary job posting was a big red flag that the employer did not respect the role.

    2. Artemesia*

      It doesn’t matter what this boss does — even if he hires a cleaning service this AA should be actively looking for a better job. These people are contemptuous of their employees.

      1. Not Australian*

        Not to mention it’s extremely doubtful that a male employee would have been required to do the same.

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          Agree – but given what the boss had in mind for job duties, I think they just wouldn’t have hired a man for this job…

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Sadly, I can totally see them coming up with a bunch of reasons that any male candidate for that job was unqualified – precisely because they figured a woman would be more easily browbeaten into doing all the extra work where a man would likely just push back.

            Hoping this isn’t a practice catering to female patients…..

          2. Elizabeth Bennett*

            A former employer once had a man temp as a receptionist and the 70+ male boss/owner had a hard time wrapping his head around it for a bit.

            1. Carp*

              It’s funny; I’ve never seen a male assistant stay an assistant for very long. We had a male HR Assistant for about four months before he was promoted into Assistant Director, while the prior HR Assistant was a woman, only clerical, and stayed in the job for 15 years before leaving due to lack of opportunity. Most other admins there were women who had been there forever (I’m talking at least 15 admins); in all their combined years of experience, they could only name three women admins who had promoted out of clerical work. The rest stayed put or left the company. But not the men. The men moved up, as if hiring them for assistant work was a mistake that needed rectified.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. The bigger problem is the contempt toward OP and that contempt seems rampant. Well the employees are following their leader. You’d think that an organization in or adjacent to human health would realize the importance of doing better here. smh.

        OP, if you are going to stick with this job ask the boss which duties he wants you to drop so you will have time to clean. When he can’t come up with any because he has no idea what you do then suggest that you could do it on OT each week. Just a thought.

        I’d keep looking for a job, OP, I can’t see this one ending well. You can’t fix entitlement.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Actually DEEP Cleaning should be done after hours. You have to be able to get at everything and not have people coming in and out while you are doing it. So ask the boss how he wants the OT handled.

          Except not really. Light cleaning like making sure the dishes in the sink are washed and the counters wiped down at the end of the day is one thing. Picking up trash in the parking lot and scrubbing toilets is a whole other kettle of fish.

          The fact you are RUDELY told to go pick up the trash tells you everything you need to know about this place. I would seriously consider whether you should stay in this job long term, even if they back off on the cleaning thing.

          1. BA*

            ABSOLUTELY! Could not agree more. The cleaning HAS to be done after hours.

            This entire situation sucks though. If you’re being told rudely to go pick up trash in the parking lot, I can only imagine the reaction those coworkers will have when something that is normally in your job description gets put on hold because you’re outside picking up trash. This situation is one that you need to find a way to leave ASAP.

            1. AnonInCanada*

              Agreed 100%. This is a no-win situation for OP if she doesn’t put her foot down on it right now. And I agree with the consensus of the crowd that OP go look for another job. One that doesn’t involve admin and heavy-duty cleaning/rudely being told to pick up the trash in the parking lot. This company obviously isn’t paying OP enough if they can make due without the hired cleaners and have OP do it all.

          2. Elizabeth Bennett*

            I once temped as an admin on the exec floor of a real estate investment trust, and in the kitchenette, there was everyday china, stainless steel utensils, and a dishwasher. Imagine my surprise, however, one day at the end of a late lunch, a MAID came in to clean up. Never one to leave a mess for someone else, I started rinsing my dishes and she stopped me, insisting she’d do it. I still cleaned up after myself if she didn’t show up before I finished lunch though.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I know how you feel; I don’t like leaving a mess for anyone. It was okay to let her do it, though.

            2. Canadian Librarian #72*

              Yeah, I once worked in a professional services firm where they had catering staff. We had a staff break room where people ate lunch, and it was stocked with coffee, cups, mugs, plates, and cutlery, and there was a hot meal available to purchase. One of the things catering staff did was wash dishes (only the dishes from the office, not anyone’s personal travel mugs or tupperware containers – we were responsible for doing those ourselves). It was best practice to put your dishes in the sink after eating, and rinse off your plate a bit, but it would be considered a bit rude to insist on doing yours yourself, because the catering staff person would still have to do whatever else was there, and you’d just be getting in their way.

              If someone’s hired to do a certain job, let them do their job.

              1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                I worked at a Boeing plants for a while and all the non-salaried people were union. God help you if you went outside your lane and accidentally did a union person’s job. The unions and their members were well aware that the more union work needed doing, the more union workers they could hire. Don’t empty your own trash, don’t touch cabling, *never* move anything.

          3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            I would even say washing dishes and cleaning kitchen counters are not administrative work, even though it’s such a common expectation of administrative staff. I know, it’s common. But it shouldn’t be.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Agreeing with this. I’ve done cleaning jobs in the past. They really can’t be done deeply and properly if there are other people present. It seems like they didn’t think this idea through at all and have now conjured up a no win situation. OP, please protect yourself and find another actual admin job – because this really doesn’t seem like a “things will work out” situation.

        3. Anonymous4*

          I wouldn’t consider “deep cleaning” an office unless I worked for a cleaning company that had a contract with that office.

          And I don’t know of a single cleaning company that was associated with any of the places I’ve worked that would go pick up trash in the parking lot.

      3. Observer*

        It doesn’t matter what this boss does — even if he hires a cleaning service this AA should be actively looking for a better job. These people are contemptuous of their employees.

        Yes. This is not a good workplace.

      4. Worldwalker*

        And completely clueless about what those employees’ skills and specialties are, and what their jobs entail. It’s highly doubtful that this knowledge blindness stops with the OP. This is a business that is heading for problems in other areas too, and potentially failure.

    3. Poopsie*

      If the boss insists she has to do it, submit a purchase order for tons of supplies, bleach, brushes, haz chemicals boiler suits galore and tell him it’ll take a couple of weeks at least and what would he like to do about all the admin jobs she won’t have time to do in the meantime. After all being asked to do a big job like that when you’ve never done it before, you’d quite legitimately have no idea how long it’ll take when doing it on your own or what exactly a ‘deep clean’ involves… long poles and clean the ceiling….take all the supplies out of the cupboards and wipe down the shelves and make a mess everywhere, spill bleach on the carpets, tell your colleagues to pack their desks up so you can fully clean them and vaccum under there desks…after all, it’s not your usual duties so you are doing the best you can….

      1. Allonge*

        No, see, you need to request training and certification first. And it should take at least a couple of weeks if full-time, obviously on the dime of the empoloyer, and then you are more or less qualified to start doing all that. But obviously nobody would expect anyone unqualified to start handling hazarduous material… right?

        1. Poopsie*

          Very good point, I hadn’t factored in the required OSHA compliance training, after all, handling chemicals is no joke, and the boss wouldn’t want the company to be in trouble if any accidents that happened due to OP not knowing what they were doing.

          1. Aqua409*

            With it being health care adjacent and there’s medical waste. She’s going to need all the OSHA compliance training on how to safely handle that as well.

            1. WellRed*

              By health care adjacent I assumed support office or billing. I don’t see any mention of medical waste.

              1. WantonSeedStitch*

                I was thinking more like a PT practice because of the linens the OP mentions–sheets from massage tables and the like.

            2. WorkInProgress*

              Don’t forget the MDS (material data sheets) for any cleaning chemicals she would be exposed to. They need to be provided and likely signed off.

              When I was a payroll manager we had to do some cleaning of our own offices and put our trash outside the doors at the end of the day because the cleaning staff wasn’t allowed in our offices where the payroll records were kept.

              Sounds like she hasn’t been there long. Just start looking for another job and don’t even list this short term one on the resume.

          2. DivineMissL*

            Plus their clothing – is OP supposed to be cleaning the bathrooms and out in the parking lot picking up trash in their work clothes? What if they spill bleach/chemicals on their clothes? Or are they expected to change into “cleaning” clothes (uniform provided by employer)? I have ruined several pairs of yoga pants by accidentally getting cleaning solutions on them in my own home. Will the employer pay for any damages? This is so complicated!

            1. LW1*

              I’m the OP of the first letter. The clothes issue is one I broached with the boss. I asked if I was expected to clean bathrooms in the business casual clothing I’m expected to wear during the week, or in the good jeans I wear on casual fridays? I got a very neatly sidestepped answer that boiled down to “well, yeah.” Though I believe it was also suggested I could bring a change of clothes. Really don’t want to ruin my black pants by getting bleach on them (which I’ve done to yoga pants before!).

                1. LW1*

                  I plan to as soon I have a new offer in hand – I started job hunting again almost immediately after starting this one.

                2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                  Out of nesting –

                  LW1, all the best on the job hunt. Hoping you are out of there very soon.

              1. Quack Quack No*

                I’m sending you all my best jobhunting vibes, and making a note to look out for ambiguous language in job descriptions as I jobhunt.

        2. Just Another Zebra*

          And OP should ask for the binder for the MSDS sheets for EVERY product that they use. Some products can literally melt your skin off. When boss flounders, say your uncomfortable cleaning without the proper documentation or training.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I’m sure OSHA would have lots of advice – along with a ton of questions if this is an actual office seeing patients….that’s not being cleaned…..and hasn’t been in who knows how long…..

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                Oh – and licensing boards would like to know about this as well probably.

                (Popped into my head just after I hit post.)

          1. Gumby*

            I’d go further and schedule my deep cleans of the kitchen for noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Obviously the kitchen would be closed to anyone else during that time and for however long it takes the mopped floors to dry (and I wouldn’t wring the mop all that well). Trash pick up in the parking lot? Happens at whatever time most people are arriving and/or leaving. One of those big rolling trash cans could be left in the middle of an aisle while I picked up litter, inexpertly, with the long pincher things while wearing gloves that made me extra clumsy. Vacuuming the hallways would happen during the time either most visitors to the office came in (to an empty reception desk if that was one of OP’s duties) or when other workers were on the phones.

            One of the benefits of hiring cleaners, other than expertise and proper tools, etc., is that it normally happens during non-core business hours. Having an admin assistant do it? Means it happens during the work day.

      2. LifeBeforeCorona*

        We do a deep cleaning 4 times a year and it usually takes 2 -3 days when you factor in pulling everything out, moving furniture and fixtures and replacing everything at the end of the cleaning. The cost of supplies and equipment is a big factor. The purchase order is a good idea, I bet they don’t have an industrial wet/dry vacuum and proper supplies and equipment are vital. You need training in hazmat because washrooms and public spaces contain human and animal waste. Also, ask your boss to consider the optics of you telling clients to please wait while you go outside and clean the parking lot before you can assist them.

        1. Anonymous4*

          I think what the boss meant was that he wanted OP to wash the windows and mirrors, vacuum the floor, mop the tiles, scrub the toilets, empty the trash, and so on. The sorts of things that the office used to have a cleaning crew to do until he fired them to save money.

      3. EventPlannerGal*

        Honestly if the boss insists I wouldn’t bother with any of that – if OP’s in a position to do so, just quit. If they’re not, start looking immediately and quit as soon as they have an offer in hand. Unless there’s some very pressing reason for them to stay in this particular job, they should just cut their losses.

        This boss clearly either doesn’t know or doesn’t care what this type of cleaning entails – he’s not going to be like “oh wow this is obviously a difficult and complex job”, he’s going to be like “well the cleaning crew did it without all this fuss, why are you making such a big deal?”. Worse, OP’s colleague’s now view her as the office trash picker, and sound pretty rude and unpleasant to boot. Once people have that sort of impression of you it is very, very difficult to change it. If OP can do so, just get out.

        1. Cheap Ass Rolex*

          I’d be the boss knew, and just thought he could get away with it. He intentionally didn’t specify frequent or deep cleaning in the ad or (I assume) interview – a fact which OP should specifically call out if the boss tries any “Well you agreed to a job description with the word ‘cleaning’ in it” BS.

    4. Staja*

      This crap was happening pre-pandemic, too! I had to check that it wasn’t my former ToxicJob…

      We were a janitorial supply company that got rid of our cleaning contractor not long after I started. Management then asked the CSRs if they wanted to pick up a few extra hours cleaning…after crickets from that request, one of our drivers helpers/warehouse assistants got roped into vacuuming and wiping down the restrooms. For a company trying to sell “clean”, it was embarrassing!

      1. EPLawyer*

        “We were a janitorial supply company that got rid of our cleaning contractor not long after I started.”

        Who did they think bought your stuff? Just, my mind it is boggling.

      2. Rayray*

        It’s been happening for as long as admin/executive assistant has been a job title. When my job nearly broke me, I found a few forums and blog posts from people in these jobs ranting out their frustrations. It’s a great job for some people but this is one of the most absolutely disrespected positions in any organization. I’m positive that this is happening to far too many people for me to even fathom.

        1. No thank you*

          A few years ago I worked somewhere where employees were entirely responsible for all cleaning and we were also healthcare adjacent. Everyone had very busy jobs so what happened was the cleaning got pushed to the side and things were just gross. (We of course cleaned up our areas and cleaned up after ourselves the way you would anywhere, but there were situations like a client having diarrhea on the FLOOR of the bathroom, and an entry level employee was told to go clean it up) I get sick very rarely, but I ended up getting a stomach virus with throwing up 3 times in the 9 months I worked there (there were a lot of issues with that place, I couldn’t even stick it out for a year) and I think it was directly related to how dirty everything was.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          this is one of the most absolutely disrespected positions in any organization

          Oh, yes, and the irony of an interviewer telling you, “The admins are the most important people in our office! We couldn’t do anything without them!” [-_-]

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Just trembling in anticipation of “Administrative Professionals Day” to hear people’s views on just this. HELLOOOOOOOO Boss!!!!! If admin is the most important job in the company, why aren’t YOU trying to get it for yourself?

        3. LilPinkSock*

          We admins often get the crappiest pay and the most disrespect. Heck, I’m an EA and when I’ve asked for professional development advice on this very blog, I’ve been told to “learn to take notes, that’s important for secretaries”.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Happened at my one workplace WAY before the pandemic (late 90s). We (about 100 people in the office, plus 50ish more working in the field and regularly traveling to the office) moved to a new office building, and the owner suddenly split all the lower-level employees (we are talking software devs, analysts, PMs) and their direct managers into three teams, and posted a cleaning schedule in the breakroom. He’d only hired the cleaners to come out once a week to save costs, and expected his employees to do the cleaning in the meantime. There was a lot of pushback, and he finally backed down after about six months of it. I thought it was a unique thing, because the owner was exceptionally cheap (as in, the company once got in minor trouble with a hotel down the road, that it did business with – they complained that the owner was stopping by on his way to work and helping himself to the hotel’s continental breakfast every morning – the owner was baffled when he was told that the hotel had a problem with it. “But it’s free food?”) And even that guy never required deep cleaning. It was more like “empty the trash, wipe the counters”.

          1. MCL*

            And he was the father of the intern of yesterday, who came in on unscheduled days to load up on the lunch meeting food. ;P

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Much like yesterday’s intern, there was no history of food insecurity. His father owned car dealerships. He inherited some of those, and started a business providing corporate training (iirc) and rental management software to car dealerships. A wealthy man coming from a wealthy family.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I was thinking the same thing and I love having this letter follow the letter about being frustrated about there being no clean bathrooms available and trying not to blame workers. I hope LW1 pushes back, boss sees reason, and hires a professional cleaning company, but what I can see is LW1 pushing back, boss not seeing reason, LW1 quitting because she didn’t sign up to be (and probably isn’t even given the proper equipment to) provide janitorial services, and LW1’s boss whining into the void, “nO OnE wAnTs To wOrk aNyMoRe!”

    6. Stitch*

      I had a deep clean done on my house when I moved into my house (allergies to previous owner’s pets) and on an empty house it was hundreds of dollars. The contact on a regular cleaning service for a whole regularly trafficked office, particularly one with regular trash pickup would be thousands.

      And this guy thinks he can just get the admin it?

      Absurd. Get out of there as soon as you can, LW.

    7. Meep*

      Soooo “funny” story… When I first started my first engineering job out of college, we had a cleaning crew for all of 5 months. Paid them $100/month to come in on Saturdays and clean our office – take out the trash, vacuum, wipe down surfaces. This was all for $25/week so you got what you paid for right? Well, Toxic Coworker was so annoyed with how “poorly” they did (this is a woman who cleans wooden surfaces with tissue paper and Windex and just overall disgusting). She demanded “cleanliness”. So she fired them and then expected me to do it, because I stress clean my desk on occasion (OCD – yay!). Soooo… To recap, she went from paying $25/week for acceptable cleaning at that price to wanting the $30/hour engineer to do it. Even if it only took me an hour it was a waste of THEIR time and money. I once suggested that the boys in the office (did I mention besides her – I was the only female) be responsible for throwing out their personal trash cans and wiping off their desks. Verbatim she told me “They have better things to do.”

      It wasn’t the only sexist thing she had done up to this point and certainly not the last, but I was flabbergasted.

      I basically refused. The trash piled up. It got messy. Any time we got someone new I would explicitly tell them not to touch it. She hired the cleaners again for a little bit then dumped them again because “too expensive”. Eventually, she ended up having her daughter do it for a little while. Well her daughter cleans exactly like her so I had to clean up after her too. Now we have cleaners again. We will see how long it sticks.

    8. Sara without an H*

      Yes. OP#1, when you quit this job (which should be as soon as you can, imho), your Idiot Boss will whine loudly that he “can’t find anybody to work.”

    9. GreyjoyGardens*

      Yes, exactly! One, it’s not 2009 anymore, and job hunters (mostly) have other options. There isn’t a line out the door for positions anymore. Many employers don’t seem to have realized this. They think they’re still in the same recession-caused catbird seat. Thus we get letters like #1.

      “Light” cleaning is one thing and having done admin work, I expect that to be part of the job duties – making sure the fridge isn’t overflowing, wiping down tables, restocking paper towels and coffee pods, etc. “Deep cleaning” is a whole other beast. That can cost actual thousands of dollars when well done by a team of experts. It’s not something an admin can “just do.” It’s actual skilled work.

      Walk away, OP1! There are better jobs out there unless there are other factors (you live in an area where there are very few jobs and employers can pick and choose like it’s 2009).

    10. Faith the twilight slayer*

      Petty me would wear dirty jeans and a ratty t-shirt, intentionally vacuum right next to people while they’re on the phone, spray bleach liberally everywhere (again, right next to people), and just lock the bathrooms and put up “closed for cleaning” signs that never come down. Hover over folks if they eat anywhere in the office just to be sure no one spills. Accidentally bleach important papers. Replace potentially leaky pens with pencils on everyone’s desk. Hide the coffee so no one can make it except me. Carry a container of wipes and randomly clean “dirty spots” on walls and desks. But I can be pretty horrible.

    11. TG*

      Totally agree! I host at a restaurant and have no issues tidying bathrooms and I wipe down the host stand, clean the books given to customers when paying, wipe doors etc. —- but when they asked me to take out the trash I was like “no-go”. I’m dressed nicely to host and they don’t pay me enough to do that on top of everything else (I also do take out but the bar gets the tips which makes 0 sense).

  1. CatCat*

    #3, I would push also to get travel advances in the future and ask for your boss’s backing to help push for it. “Given my recent experience where my finances were put in jeopardy over the company’s late credit card payment, I’ll need to be advanced money for travel in the future. Of course, I’ll submit any necessary records to true up the expenses after the travel. What needs to happen to ensure I can get an advance in the future?”

    (I pushed for a travel advance with ex-job when I told my boss I wasn’t able to front $2k in behalf of the organization. This was at a time where payment processing was slow so could have otherwise taken me over a month to get reimbursed. Turned out there was a process for advances, but no one used it because it was “a hassle” my boss had to approve. I was like, for the $2k in expenses, I can deal with a little hassle. It was basically a minimal hassle to provide a cost estimate to my boss and finance.)

    1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      And, if they aren’t willing to advance, ask for all the big ticket items (e.g. hotel, car rental, transport) be put on the corporate card held by finance/in the org’s name. That way you are only stuck paying for meals, mileage (if you use your own vehicle – which I don’t recommend for slow reimburses) and incidentals under your own name. Not as good as a travel advance, but way better than what is going on now.

    2. Jaybee*

      Absolutely. Do not trust this company with your credit again any time soon – I assume it’s a matter of incompetence rather than malice, but yikes! This is unacceptable.

    3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      This is good advice for the long term. For the short term, is there a “minimum payment” you could make yourself (and be reimbursed for), that would prevent the credit score hit? Or would you have to pay the whole 1.5K? It’s certainly not ideal to have to do this yourself, and be temporarily out the money, but under the circumstances it’s probably better than the score hit.

      1. Annie E. Mouse*

        This is what I was thinking. Of course LW should never have to do this, but if they can pay a small minimum payment to buy time, it would be worth it to avoid disaster.

    4. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Do not put the advance against the credit card, even if the total projected spend is greater than the credit limit. Spouse learned this the hard way, stranded overseas. Apparently it triggers money laundering alarms.

    5. Still trying to adult*

      As an aside, isn’t it way past time for companies to stop having employees front money for business travel, AND especially having the ‘corporate credit card’ in the employee’s name like this dude, and risk financial struggle?

      This LW is a perfect example; they’ve got their own finances mingled with the company, and if the company does a series of unfortunate stupid mistakes, it’s the employee who might pay a major portion of the penalties.

      I can clearly see a situation where the employee gets fed up, quits, but is still owed money by the company, and the company decide there’s ‘no rush’ in straightening it out.

      Good Luck, LW, yes your boss should be standing on Finance’s desks and raising hell.

      1. Xena*

        I’m in a situation where I pay for business travel and then my company reimburses me, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, business travel can be expensive–a week at a hotel + food + airfare + rental care if necessary can easily push into the 2 grand range, and even prepaying for airline tickets can be a tad pricey. On the other hand, I’ve never had an expense turnaround time of more than a week, I have a credit card so I don’t have to pay out of pocket immediately, and we’re encouraged to have frequent flyer and hotel memberships to accumulate some decent membership points and airline miles. So I don’t know exactly how to feel about the situation.

        1. Purple Cat*

          We have the best of both worlds. General policy is employees pay for expenses themselves, and company reimburses. We commit to one week turnaround once expenses are submitted so employees aren’t left on the hook. However, if an employee can’t (or won’t) cover purchases themselves, we’ll book expenses using the company PCard on their behalf.

        2. Jinni*

          The quick turnaround is all the difference. My ex had us front costs for the miles! points! But the reimbursements went through the ‘main office’ in Cleveland, Ohio. (We live on the west coast).

          So we’d be lucky to get money in four or five weeks. And he traveled two or three times a month. Honestly, I felt like they were using us as a bank. After YEARS of pushback, I eventually got him to get the firm to pay for airline tickets at least.

          I was willing to give up the points! miles! for not having to chase down thousands of dollars a month and keep accounts of long-awaited reimbursements.

          Personally, I think businesses should front all these costs. Whenever I’ve had employees, I’ve never done the reimbursement route.

    6. Public Sector Manager*

      I was confused by #3 for a swift minute because I’ve only had a business credit card where I am just one of many authorized users for the company and the company is always on the hook for the payment. Do they have corporate cards where the employee is personally responsible? How is that any different that getting a reimbursement? And with that in mind, I absolutely agree about getting a travel advance plus pushing back on the company on travel until they get their act together. If I can pay off a card online in about 2 minutes for my personal account, you can’t tell me OP’s finance department can’t do the same.

      1. PT*

        Your credit is always affected by a credit card in your name, regardless of whether it’s a line of credit in your name, or you’re an authorized user of someone else’s line of credit.

        1. Cake or Death?*

          That’s not exactly true; it depends on the type of card. There are corporate cards that can be issued to employees that don’t show up on their credit report at all. Our company credit card for example. We have a corporate Mastercard, issued to several individuals (including myself) and it isn’t reported to any of the credit agencies. My name is on the actual card, but it is not on my credit reports.

          1. Beast ala Mode*

            Exactly. I manage the credit card program at work. No one’s social security number is tied to any of the cards issued in their names. They are all just tied to the work EIN.

        2. BreaCheese*

          I was once a consultant with a company-issued American Express card in my name. I had a similar issue with my company after I left the position, where they owed money to AMEX that they claimed I had to pay, even though I did not. While I was fighting it, AMEX called me many times. I was concerned, so I asked if this would affect my credit, and they told me no, but it may affect my ability to get an American Express credit card in the future. I didn’t have an AMEX card at the time and wasn’t planning on getting one soon, so I continued to fight it out with my previous company and never had any issues with my credit score.

      2. Artemesia*

        I had an American Express with the fee paid by the company which was used for business travel with the costs reimbursed — so yeah if the company had gone under, the debt would have been mine. Bad policy.

      3. Loredena Frisealach*

        As a consultant I’ve almost always had corporate credit cards in my name. Then we use a system, such as Concur, to submit our expenses. Typically any items that went on the credit card populate automatically and get paid as soon as the expense report is approved. Amex at least has a bit of a grace period with corporate cards because it’s generally such a large # of cards/$s. But yes, it’s in my name and impacts my credit so I take the hit if it doesn’t get paid. I learned with some types of travel to split my expense reports – submit paid up front airline bills right away, and the rest after the trip.

      4. CanadianPublicServant*

        I wad very surprised 10+ when I was offered a company credit card….only to find out I had to pay the bill then submit for reimbursement. Not sure if this is a weird government thing, or if it was for people who didn’t want/couldn’t get that type of credit in their name, or if I was just naive about how things work. In any case, it was a pain and I ended up just using my own card for my limited business expenses.

  2. NeutralJanet*

    I’m just trying to figure out the timeline in #1 – if OP was only told a month into the job that she was expected to clean the bathrooms, kitchen, and meeting rooms, then were those areas just…not cleaned for a month, when they used to be cleaned three times a week? Because for one thing, that is very gross, and for another, it’s bizarre that apparently the boss seemed to expect that OP would just know that deep cleaning the office was part of her job, even though it had not been explicitly stated.

    1. MistOrMister*

      I’m kind of assuming the cleaning service was cancelled after OP had been there for that first month. It seems unlikely that they wouldn’t notice the lack of cleaning in the bathrooms for that time frame. Workplace bathrooms seem to start getting grungy within a day or so in my experience. With the wording in the letter, it stuck me as the boss cancelled the cleaning service and then went to OP telling them to draw up a cleaning schedule. I think my blood my literally be boiling over this. It is ridiculous!!

      Honestly, if I was OP I would be finding a new place to work, ASAP. The fact that the boss went from “some cleaning” duties to deep cleaning the entire office multiple times a week is a sign of lunacy. And to have multiple people in the office rudely demanding they clean the parking lot….those are not the type of coworkers I would want even if that amount of cleaning was in my job description. It makes me wonder what OPs experience was like their first month because these coworkers seem crappy.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        To me deep cleaning is rip a room apart, wipe everything, clean behind and under everything. It not necessary to do this 3 times a week or even 3 times a month. Deep cleaning to me is a once a year thing and sometimes less depending on the usage of the area. I have to wonder if the boss has cleaned anything… ever.. in his life.

        1. I'm just here for the cats!*

          I had the same thought. Deep cleaning is pull furniture out, clean walls, shampoo carpets. The only time I’ve ever had to deep clean at work was when I worked for campus dining in college and had to deep clean the smaller kitchen before the end of the year because that kitchen wasn’t used or open during the summer. Even then it was expected because cleaning was part of my job

        2. EventPlannerGal*

          I doubt it. Reading this letter I immediately thought that the boss has no idea what deep cleaning vs daily maintenance cleaning vs light tidying/spot-checking entails, and likely doesn’t care. Which also speaks to extreme carelessness (imagine ending a contract without understanding what the services provided actually are!) and/or complete disregard for OP (“who cares what they do, whatever it is we’ll just get the new admin to take care of it”). Ugh. I really hope OP is in a position to just get out of there, because people like that are just the worst.

    2. Stitch*

      “I want one person to do a job normally done by a professional team, 3x a week, in addition to her job, for no additional pay”.


      1. JustaTech*

        While still getting her normal job done, too.
        And something tells me that the rude coworkers who expect the OP to drop everything and clean the parking lot (the heck?) won’t be pleased when the OP starts vacuuming while they’re meeting with a client/patient.

        So then is the OP supposed to stay late to clean? Or come in early?

        At my office we have a day porter/cleaner who wipes down all the kitchens and bathrooms in our part of the building (3 floors), an evening crew who comes in around 6 who empties the trash and dry mops (and maybe they vacuum sometimes?), and then a separate crew who empties the biohazard trash.
        One time when money was tight upper management asked a previous day porter if she would do the biohazard and she quite reasonably said no, she didn’t have the training. And that was the end of that (and she kept her job).

  3. Casper Lives*

    OP1 Your boss is the definition of penny wise, pound foolish. And your coworkers rudely telling you to pick up trash in the parking lot…it’s not a good sign for you being appreciated there!

    OP3 I got a mortgage last year so I’m reliving the credit report worries. “Did I pay off my car loan too soon? Is that debt going to effect my mortgage?” I can’t imagine the stress a company credit card, that’s out of my control, would have.

    Part of me wonders if the company is seeing if OP will pay it. But it’s more likely to be indifference to OP’s plight because it’s not directly impacting finance.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If it’s a company card, why are OP’s finances in jeopardy? This should all be handled by the company.

      1. doreen*

        It depends on what exactly the set-up is, although the one described in the OP seems weird. My first corporate card was issued to me, it showed on my credit report and I was responsible for paying the bill ( and would have the reimbursement on time if I filed my expense report right after I returned ) Really, the only advantage to using that card over a personal card was not paying the annual fee – and many of my coworkers used it for personal charges. At some point, they switched over to one where my employer gets and pays the bill and it doesn’t appear on my credit report. The OPs card seems to be a strange mash-up where the company gets and pays the bill but the OP is still responsible and it shows up on the credit report.

        1. Colette*

          The last time I had a corporate card, I was responsible for any charges (and I assume it showed up on my credit report) but there was an expense system that would automatically pay the card if I submitted my expenses and they were approved. So I made the charges, submitted the expense report, and the company paid the card.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          That seems like a bizarre and *terrible* system since the OP is basically responsible for the outcome (since it affects their credit) but has no control over whether payments are made properly.

        3. RC*

          My first corporate card was like this as well. If I submitted expenses immediately each time I traveled, it was never an issue–the reimbursement came along with my payroll. It had the unexpected benefit of helping improve my own credit–this was my first “real” job after college, so my credit was horrible at the time.

          The company’s rationale for this was that employees would submit expense reports in a timely fashion if they were on the hook for the bills. I think it’s a shitty thing to do, particularly to lower-paid minions and sales reps like myself at the time who wouldn’t have the cash flow if a report was delayed at any point in the process.

        4. Anonymous4*

          We have that system. I don’t travel at the moment, but the arrangement was that big expenses that are on reservation ahead of time — airplane tickets, hotel — are immediately sent to corporate as the reservations are made, but the smaller expenses like any additional hotel charges, rental car, gasoline, and meals, are on the card I carry. I would fill out an expense report when I got back and the payment went from corporate to the card company.

          I had to turn the expense report in by a certain time and it had to have all the receipts, AND it had to match the expenses that had been approved ahead of time, so there were a couple of ways that trouble could arise, but on the whole it worked pretty well.

        5. Cake or Death?*

          Yeah, I have a company card in my name that is completely controlled by the company and isn’t reported on my credit reports.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I wondered too. While we’re not supposed to speculate, I think it’s likely that this company is routinely late on reimbursements and the credit company that issues the card is tired of dealing with them. They want their money and they don’t care who pays or how.

        1. EPLawyer*

          It does seem odd that after only 30 days she is being barraged with phone calls. Usually the company just tacks on late fees and jacks the interest rate, its only if it is consistently late with a high balance that they start the collection mess. So maybe there is history there.

          1. DKLKEK*

            It’s probably not actually a credit card. A lot of corporate cards are intended to be payed off every month (I think the term is “charge card”) and not designed to hold a balance.

        2. Artemesia*

          If the card is in her name, the the company doesn’t pay off the card, they reimburse her — and any lateness goes on her personal credit card report. This is not a ‘company credit card’ — it is a personal card provided by the company.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        It’s not really a company card. The CC is for the individual employee and the employee is responsible for ensuring it is paid on time.

        The federal government does it this way. They make it very clear that the individual employee must ensure on time payments to the credit card in their name which they are only allowed to use for approved govt travel. The reimbursement system is set to allow advances and partial payments for long trips if needed. When filing for reimbursement, some items like hotel costs will automatically be paid by the govt to the CC company, but the employee can also direct additional amount based on what they spent on meals, gas, etc. What doesn’t go to the CC company goes to the employee. Some people with bad credit have trouble getting issued cards.

        To be clear, I don’t think this okay, but it is the way it is. For me, my finances are well-off enough that I didn’t bother with advances because it’s a hassle, but it’s there if people need it. If the CC came due before my travel voucher was completed, I paid it off and directed money that would have gone to the card to me.

        Luckily the airline tickets were not put on the employees cards so that charge in advance of the trip wasn’t the responsibility of the employee.

      4. MansplainerHater*

        I had a corporate card that was linked to me, and it was opened on my behalf and right at the time I was applying for a mortgage and it dinged me. I did get Corporate to write a letter stating that the card was for company business, and I did secure my mortgage… but it was nerve-wracking. I frequently had issues with Corporate not paying on the same cycle as when the payment was due, so I’d pay the card and then have to get reimbursed which also took forever. Luckily, the one time I had to pay $50,000 worth of expenses (the credit card had no spending limit), Corporate paid quickly.

      5. ArtK*

        I have a credit card, sent to me by my employer as part of my job, but the account is in my name. I had a similar setup at a previous job as well.

      6. Fed Employee*

        Right or wrong, the largest employer in the world (the US government) does it this way. You are issued a credit card onto which you put your expenses. However, it is in your name and you are responsible for paying it off, even if your reimbursement is late. I’ve not had a late reimbursement.

        I know of many private employers that have the same approach.

        Again, not saying it is right, just pointing out that it is not uncommon.

    2. Soprani*

      This card sounds like a Joint & Several liability card where the company is on the hook until the payment is late, but once the payment is late the issuer goes after the cardholder. It’s a crappy way to treat employees since it ultimately puts the burden of payment on the employee. Individual liability cards are the ones that are solely the responsibility of the employee to pay. Corporate liability cards never affect the cardholder’s credit as the issuer only goes after the company for payment. Corp liability is the way to go, but some companies don’t trust employees.

  4. AcademiaNut*

    If a company needs to hire a combination administrative assistant/janitor, they need to advertise for that, or at the very least tell people in the interview that this is what they want. You don’t hire an admin and dump janitorial work that used to be done by a team of contractors on them, and you don’t hire a janitor and then tell them they’re now in charge of ordering office supplies, booking travel, arranging meetings and managing the boss’s inbox.

    It keeps surprising me just how many bosses and companies can’t wrap their mind around the idea that you can demand things of people in a deep recession when they’re desperate for work, that you can’t get when they have the option of leaving for a better job. If the OP leaves for another job, want to bet the boss will be complaining about flaky employees who aren’t willing to work hard…

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yup, if you want an admin, hire an admin. If you want a cleaner, hire a cleaner. The fact that they would try to combine these roles just shows how little respect they have for both cleaning and admin work.
      As a former cleaner, many people just do not realise how time-consuming and difficult office cleaning is if you do it the right way. Also, WTF is up with colleagues giving her their trash to throw away? Did these people never learn how to use a bin??

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Oh, I was mistaken about her colleagues giving her trash, they are telling her to pick it up. This is what happens when you comment first thing in the morning before having coffee!

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          The cleanup of the parking lot is the most infuriating. We have a small 6 car parking lot that people use as a shortcut. A lot of trash gets discarded and it needs to be checked daily. Bags of household garbage, human and animal waste, broken bottles, and dead squirrels are normal finds. Colleagues telling me to go pick up trash would really burn my britches.

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Ugh, parking lot/garage trash is even worse than inside trash. And if it’s directly outside the building, surely cleaning exterior trash should really be the responsibility of the building management.

            1. knitcrazybooknut*

              This is how Wal-Mart got rid of my mother-in-law. She had worked there for at least fifteen years, and was the head of the jewelry department. They suddenly started requiring everyone to pick up trash in the parking lot. Remarkably (not), the older employees who were close to retirement weren’t willing to do this, and WM was able to replace them with lower paid workers. What a coincidence.

          2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            At one of the places I worked we ended up with an entire cow skeleton, all in essentially one piece, in the parking lot one morning. Thankfully it was generally well cleaned and only a little smelly, but so many questions on how it got there. Our janitorial service called in a specialist removal company to do it and the big boss signed off on it in about 0.3 seconds

          3. Librarian of SHIELD*

            My most unreasonable boss liked to prove what a problem solver she was by disciplining us in meetings when bigwigs were visiting. At one meeting, there hadn’t been any problems for her to “solve” so she ended up lecturing us about not picking up litter in the parking lot because there had been a gum wrapper on the ground near her usual parking space for DAYS and no one had picked it up.

            1. Clorinda*

              My eyes are rolling at your boss so hard right now, I might sprain something. What kind of person thinks it makes her look good to say something like this?

              1. irene adler*

                Really. If I were a bigwig witnessing this, I would NOT be impressed. I’d pull that boss aside and instruct them to stop wasting employee time on such lectures. Employee tasks should pertain to the job/skills they were hired for.

            2. The OTHER Other*

              If I were one of those bigwigs I would wonder why she is wasting my (and everyone’s) time talking about a gum wrapper, and why she thinks she’s too important to pick it up herself and solve her own problem. It wouldn’t happen twice.

              But I imagine the bigwigs were of a similar mindset as her, and praised her “attention to detail”.

              1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

                I have to say that if I was a visiting bigwig, I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from asking why *she* didn’t pick it up, since it was obviously bothering her so much. I might have also asked that as an employee… and this is why I didn’t always do well in the Army

            3. Salymander*

              I left a job on my first day because of this nonsense. Boss told me that, as it was not busy at that moment, I needed to go out and scrape gum off the sidewalks and parking lot with a knife. In the interview, she had mentioned light cleaning such as washing coffee cups and wiping the kitchen counter. It was over 100° f and she wanted me to be squatting on the asphalt scraping old gum off the ground in my work clothes. When I objected and explained politely why that wasn’t happening, she looked at me in total shock, mouth hanging open and red faced. She said I should just be grateful to have a job, and that most people would be thanking her. Like she was doing me a favor. I just walked out shaking my head. Thank goodness I was able to do that, because if I had been in a desperate financial state I might have had to just suck it up and that would have been ghastly.

              1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                I think I would have refused and taken my chances on whether she’s really fire me, and if so, whether the Unemployment Insurance people would see that I had a valid claim for benefits.

            4. AnonInCanada*

              And I guess Ms. Boss Who Wants To Sound Like A Problem Solver felt it too beneath her to bend down and pick up the gum wrapper herself? She’s sure making a lasting impression on the Big Wigs. Too bad for her it’s not the impression she was hoping for in this case. SMH!

          4. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

            Also, Picking up the trash in the parking lot is a safety hazard. I don’t know if this is trash on the ground or the trash cans are full. Either way the company should be providing her with thick gloves, so she doesn’t get jabbed, and a yellow vest to wear so that she is more visible to traffic. If she is picking garbage off the ground then she should also have one of those trash picker things.

            Now that I think about it, is the boss providing her with the correct materials to clean the office? Gloves, vacume, cleaning supplies, etc.

          5. Unicorn Parade*

            When I was an office manager many years ago, I had to clean up the small (12 space) parking lot, which was on a busy road that had a bus route and lots of foot traffic. I usually did it in the morning before everyone else got there, and I usually filled at least once trash bag,

            One morning I was filling a trash bag as my boss (the company owner) was parking. I picked up a plastic bag full of glass beer bottles and one slipped out and broke, and I ended up with several scratches on my bare legs (I was wearing a dress). The bottle wasn’t empty, so I also ended up drenched with beer dregs and stinking of alcohol. I was (I think understandably!) upset and started crying. My boss saw this whole thing play out. He not only wouldn’t let me go home to change (I reeked of beer) or bathe (dirty glass cuts) but he berated me for crying. It was a tiny company with no HR, but I called the other owner who was more in tune with employee rights and told him what happened and that I needed to file a workers comp claim and go to the hospital for treatment (since I had no idea what was also in the bottom of those glasses).

            I was 100% willing to go home, shower, change, clean and bandage up my scratches, and come back and work the rest of the day. But my boss wanted to be a jerk about it, so instead they had to deal with a workers comp claim, I missed three days of work with full pay (I ended up needing stitches as one scratch was pretty deep) and I never had to clean the parking lot again.

            1. LifeBeforeCorona*

              I picked up smashed beer bottles in our parking lot because they were a hazard to anyone parking. I needed gloves because those shards were everywhere. Your boss was lucky that it was only 3 days of pay, it could have been a lot worse.

            2. Quack Quack No*

              Your jerk boss is the most disgusting part of your experience here, which is saying a lot. I’m glad they stopped making you do something you should never have had to do in the first place.

      2. Poopsie*

        I’ve suggested above something similar to what you said. Outside of the fact that she absolutely should not be being asked to do those kind of jobs, the practicalities of being asked to do a deep clean of an entire office when you’ve not done it before are significant – how long should it take one person to do, what exactly needs to be cleaned, what chemicals need to be used…..If the boss insists she has to do it, tell him due to all of the above it’ll probably take at least a couple of weeks to do it and she needs to order in tons of supplies, ask who will cover her duties whilst she will be doing it and then make an absolute mess doing it. After all, a deep clean presumably means EVERYTHING needs cleaning right? Walls, ceilings, cupboards…..that means everything needs to be moved or emptied so you can get in to do it, and of course it has to be done during working hours, and I’m really sorry I accidentally tipped over the bucket where I put too much bleach in all over the nice Reception carpet…….

        Kidding of course, mostly, but you are right, even the simple logistics of how big a job she’s being told to do should have rung a bell in the bosses head, but I guess the fact he thinks it’s fine to demand she does this says it all really.

        Our office does deep cleans once in a while, but they get done at the weekend by a team of cleaners who know what they are doing and get paid for all the hours they are there doing it.

      3. BethDH*

        You can combine the roles in a very small office, but you need to advertise for that, discuss it in any interviews, and make time for it. Some people will like the idea of the combined role if it’s clearly defined and really just one job’s worth of duties. This boss’ process is either completely lacking in awareness of what either role actually does or totally manipulative.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep I’ve worked for small companies where there was a general admin person (sometimes called an office manager) and their role would include ordering stationery and office supplies, making sure the fridge was stocked with milk and the kitchen stocked with tea/coffee, making sure meeting rooms were tidy and presentable and putting out jugs of water/glasses/plates of biscuits before meetings with external people, and also light cleaning – but I’m talking tidying up after a meeting, wiping down the kitchen surfaces a couple of times a day, emptying the dishwasher, etc. Things that made sense in connection with their role, and that were clearly set out in their job description. There was always a separate cleaning company (or even just one cleaner) who would come round every evening and clean the toilets, empty the bins, hoover the office etc. Those things wouldn’t be expected to fall under an admin’s job description.

  5. Five after Midnight*

    #5 – here comes the Great Deadline Debate :-)
    “On” x date typically means no later than end of normal business hours that day, although some people will stretch it to the start of the next business day.
    “By” x date may mean “before” x date and not necessarily “on” x date.

    1. LemonLyman*

      I reread what OP said in her letter and she’s not clean on either accounts. She just says:

      “If the deadline of a project is, say, the 1st of February…”

      If that phrasing was said to me, I’d definitely ask for clarification and hopefully a little leeway is given for the miscommunication. That being said, if anyone demands any work item of me at 6AM I’d be annoyed, too!

      1. Elle*

        See, I thought that too, but then further down, she says:

        “Recently a client asked me to finish a project by a particular date, and emailed me at 6 am that morning asking where it was.”

        If I had asked for something BY 1st February, I would expect it in my inbox by the time I got to work on 1 Feb, no matter how early I got in. If I had set a deadline of 1 Feb, I would expect it by COB 1 Feb.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Same. “By Feb 1st” means it’s available to me no later than 12am on Feb 1. “By EOD Feb 1st” is a different animal.

          I often use “no later than Thursday” and I mean EOD Thursday, but I control my deadlines and I give myself more time than I need.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Or where possible, tell them Feb 2nd. When you send the project over at 3 pm on the 1st, they will be so pleased.
            This comes under the heading of managing people’s expectations.
            I agree that there are too many people out there who hear “Feb 1st” as “8 AM on Feb 1st”. I think it’s reasonable to assume that this will be a recurring sticking point and I just adjust how I say things so that every thing is super clear.

            My husband had a boss like this. The ONLY thing that appeased him was if the project was in his email or on his desk at 8 AM. So my husband worked from the 8 AM time frame to determine what date he would have the project done.

          2. Cait*

            As an admin, this is why I always use “EOD” when giving a deadline. If I need something by 8am on February 1, I say “EOD January 31”. It is on the person who needs the work done to be crystal clear about when it’s due.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Hmm. It seems to me I normally get deadlines as “due: mm/dd” somewhere on the assignment, or occasionally it appears in a calendar block. All of those mean close of day. If someone said “We need you to complete your part by 1/10 so editorial can get going on 1/11” that’s what it means–my due date is 1/10.

        “I need this by mm/yy, (which in my head means close of day the business day before)” strikes me as an unusual phrasing that, as someone said, highlights the day it’s late rather than the day it’s due. I can see just assuming “Due: mm/dd” was what they were going for and some confusion arising. But based on my own job’s norms and the logic of due dates, I think the person has chosen an unnecessarily convoluted phrasing that will lead to confusion.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          The “by” part is interesting, because if someone said that I needed to be somewhere *by* 10AM, I would know to show up before 10AM. So, I can definitely see someone saying, “Your project is due by Oct 11,” and my thinking, “I have to get it in before that date.” But I could also see myself writing in my notes: “Due: Oct 11” and possibly getting it in *on* that day. And now I’m not sure what to think… people should definitely just straight-up say, “Due EOD on XX/XX.”

    2. AcademiaNut*

      The only way to avoid confusion is to include the date, time and time zone, and not make the deadline midnight or noon.

      1. Scarlet2*

        Yeah, that’s what I’m doing as well. If there’s no mention of time, I would definitely assume the deadline is eob on that date, but there are clients who feel they can ask you to shorten your deadline at the last minute because they seem to assume you don’t have any other project to handle, so it’s better to be 100% clear.

      2. Epsilon Delta*

        Wait why is noon ambiguous? I know that midnight is confusing because of the new day (ie confusuin over whether midnight Thursday means 11:59pm Wednesday or 11:59pm Thursday), but I’ve never heard anyone question what noon on Thursday meant.

    3. Wendy*

      Usually I’d agree with you, but I’d make an exception for the first of the month – I’d assume that actually meant “before the month starts,” i.e. have it done at least a day in advance. Same with “by the first of the week” – (a less common phrase) – I’d assume they meant to get to it first thing Monday morning, so I’d assume it needed to be turned in before start of business then.

      1. Allonge*

        I mean, you cannot go wrong by delivering a day before deadline either way, but that is a different issue from what I should expect when I say ‘deadline is dd month’. If it matters, best to be specific.

      2. Alice*

        I’ve never encountered such an assumption. If I need an item ready to review first thing on Monday, I would set the deadline for the previous Friday.

        1. Teapot Librarian*

          If I need an item ready to review first thing on Monday, I tell the person working on it that “I need it ready for review by 8am [or whatever time “first thing” is] on Monday.” That way they can have the weekend to work on it if they need it.

          1. pancakes*

            Same. There’s no sense in not giving them the weekend if it doesn’t need to be done until Monday morning.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        I would not assume that at all, but in my line of business a lot of things are due on the first of the month because the information they would need to prep it is not available to them until the first of the month so they definitely couldn’t complete it the day before.

        I think if you need it any time other than the end of the business day, then you have to specify that.

    4. londonedit*

      I agree. If I ask for something ‘on the 15th’ then it’s fine if I receive it at some point on the 15th (though it is annoying when people take that to mean 4:58pm because realistically I’m not going to be able to look at it until the following day). If I ask for something ‘by the 15th’ then I want it ready for me to start work on when I get to my desk on the 15th. If it’s super urgent then I will always make sure I say ‘I need to send it off by the end of the day on the 15th and will need to review it first, so I need the draft from you by the end of the day on the 14th’ or whatever.

      1. DKLKEK*

        So I was looking for a spot to make this point, and your comment is perfect. Clearly there isn’t consensus on the use of “by” to mean “before”, so no one who is aware of that lack of consensus should use it that way.

        Your “by the 15th” and “by the end of the day on the 14th” are an example of why. The second phrase is precise, but you are assuming that people are mentally thinking “by (the start of the day on) the 15th” when I think most people interpret as “by (the end of the day on) the 15th” when you don’t specify.

        In general, it’s safer to assume that people will interpret deadlines as late as possible, and set them with that level of clarity.

        1. londonedit*

          I’ll admit, I wasn’t really aware before today that not everyone interprets ‘by’ as ‘before’. I’d always take ‘by the 15th’ to mean ‘before the 15th’. As I said, if I desperately need something to be on my desk when I start work on the 15th, I’d always specify end of day on the 14th just to be sure.

          Most of the time I’m able to build in a bit of wiggle room with the deadlines I give people, so I usually say ‘is a deadline of the 15th OK with you’ and by that I mean as long as it’s with me at some point on the 15th then that’s fine. Most things I work with aren’t massively urgent and I manage the schedules so I can juggle things. If it is massively urgent I specify a hard deadline (9am on the 15th). Or I make sure I tell them the 13th when actually I need it before the 15th (I do this in particular with one freelancer who, without fail, will email at 4pm on the original deadline saying ‘So sorry! Is it OK if I send this over by tomorrow morning?’ and they’re good enough work-quality wise for me to just build in extra time whenever I have them do any work for me).

          1. Spencer Hastings*

            I’m in the opposite position: I had no idea people used “by” to mean “strictly before” until now. The way I use it and interpret it, it means “on or before”. For example, “you need to file your taxes by April 15” and “you need to file your taxes on or before April 15” mean the same thing to me. (“On or before” sounds too much like legalese for me to actually use it in most circumstances, though.)

            1. Spencer Hastings*

              (I was curious, so I looked it up on the IRS website, and even they use “by” for tax deadlines. Evidence that this is in fact a UK/US dialect issue, perhaps.)

            2. Public Sector Manager*

              I’m in the same boat as Spencer–the literal meaning of “by” in this context is “not later than.” If people are using “by” to mean the day before the day specified, there is always going to be confusion because you really should be using “before” not “by.”

        2. Smithy*

          I agree with this, and while I understand that in offices or on teams where people work together for a while having reliable assumptions will develop around assignments – it’s a practice where you are relying on assumptions.

          I work with a lot of grant deadlines where I work with international teams – and taking the extra time to give people deadliness that are date/time precise is a courtesy to everyone. If I’m giving a deadline of 5pm EST on a Friday and someone asks if they can have until Sunday – then I can give an explanation. It may be that I have specific work plans to start at 5:01pm on Friday – perhaps to meet a Friday 11:59pm EST deadline or a Monday deadline and I’m working all weekend. Otherwise, if it’s clear they really need more time, I can push their deadline to Saturday. If I had never planned to look until Monday, then I can easily switch their deadline to Sunday.

          Now…..goodness knows, I wish everyone followed my deadlines and timelines that tightly. So I absolutely build in buffers. But when discussing timelines upfront, I’m always this specific and when working with others who set timelines do ask for as much precise clarity as possible.

        3. Le Sigh*

          Yeah, I think being a precise as possible is really important. Most people aren’t going to think that far ahead, because they’re not managing the project or carrying out the next steps — they’re just going to interpret your deadline literally. I run a lot of projects with a lot of different contributors, so if I needed to start on something on the 15th, I would just tell them “I need this no later than Noon on the 14th” so even if they’re a little behind schedule, I’ll still have it by the next day.

    5. Dutchie*

      I think the whole problem can be avoided by setting a deadline the day before you need it.

      Most people will not remember whether you said/wrote on or by, but they will remember the date. Now, should they err on the side of caution and get it to you before that date? Probably. Might they not? Maybe.

      So why not save yourself the hassle and set the deadline in the 14th if you need it the 15th, whenever possible?

      1. KHB*

        I agree. It would never have occurred to me that “by” versus “on” was a distinction I should be paying attention to. And I deal with a lot of deadlines (usually internal, where expectations are thankfully already clear).

        If you need to receive something in time to review it on the 15th, either make the deadline the 14th or set it at a specific time early in the day on the 15th.

    6. anonymous73*

      There’s no need for debate. Specify the date, time and time zone when dealing with things like this and there’s no confusion.

    7. Emilia Bedelia*

      Frankly, I think the debate should end with “Whatever you have agreed with the recipient when the deliverable was requested”. If you haven’t done that, there’s your first problem. There may be a definition that a lot of people agree on, but it may not be the definition that your particular office/client is expecting, so better to clarify with them rather than rely on nebulous internet consensus.

    8. Biscotti*

      Agreed the on and by are indicators, I have also worked for many people who if you complete/turn in your project on the day its due then its late. We had a CFO that drove free lancers and contractors crazy with his belief that if you were on time you were late and if you were early you were on time. Since I left that company I always ask about timelines, and try and bring up due dates and due expectations before the project is due so I get a feel for how the company or person in charge operates.

      1. KHB*

        Your CFO was basically the 15-pieces-of-flair guy from Office Space: “You should be doing more than what I asked for, without my having to ask for it.” He would drive me crazy too.

      2. Anonymous4*

        Your CFO was either in the Army or he knew people who were, and thought that it was just SO-O-O cool and groovy to adapt that idiot mantra.

        It just annoys the life out of me for someone to say that they want something by X time, or that the meeting starts at Y time, and then start that gleeful shout of, “You’re LATE! If you’re not early, you’re late!” I don’t play that stupid game.

      3. Unicorn Parade*

        LOL my grandma used to say: “To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be forgotten.” To this day I usually arrive places 15-20 minutes early.

        1. MAC*

          Our HS band director’s version was “If you’re early you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late, if you’re late you’re running laps.”

    9. AthenaC*

      It depends on what they need it for. If they need to turn around and file it with someone else, they probably need it before COB in the time zone of whoever is ultimately receiving it.

      It doesn’t seem weird to me for a client to reach out the morning of the due date and confirm that the project will still be incoming that day, especially if there hasn’t been communication about status.

      Sounds like there could have been more specific communication about when during the day this project was needed and why; potentially OP5’s response came across as rigid which isn’t great client service, but I’m too far removed from the specifics of OP’s circumstances to know for sure.

    10. That IT Guy*

      Semantically you’re probably right, but it seems kind of strange to my brain to say “I need this by the 25th” when what you really mean is “I need you to stop working on this and send it to me on the 24th”. To the person doing the work, the 25th is irrelevant, so why use that date as the marker for completion? It’s just going to lead to confusion.

      1. Allonge*

        This. Also, relying on a random person catching that small distinction (it’s two letters!) is just plain bad communication. It takes 5 more seconds to type 24th EOD. If the deadline matters to you, take 5 seconds.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yes, this very much! If you say “please do this by the 25th” no one is going to leave that conversation and say “okay, they said ‘by’ and ‘by’ means ‘before.’ They are going to leave that conversation and say “okay, they said ’25th.'”

        1. Jacey*

          Thanks for putting this into words! That’s exactly how my brain works, and I’ve been trying to explain it to my mom for some time. She’s the kind of person who says “let’s meet at 10” and then panics when I’m not there at 9:55.

          1. Jacey*

            A better example, since I know this comment section has some varied views on what “on time” means: she’ll say “tell me by Tuesday” and then be frustrated I didn’t answer Monday.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      My assumption (I freelance) is that “Due on February 1st” means “by 5 or 6 pm in client’s time zone on that date.” It’s not unusual for there to be an explicit or casual understanding that it means “before 9 am the next morning” but if there’s any slippage anticipated you spell that out. (Some people routinely work evenings and weekends; some those are down time to recharge.)

      Emailing 6 am the day of is unusual; I could fanfic some scenarios where The Angst Is Real, but I’d start with a bland reply email that says “Yes, I expect to have that on the server by 4 pm today.”

      1. SpaceySteph*

        I live in Central and work with a lot of people in Pacific so we usually have an “open of business on X day” deadline, so our California counterparts are able to work to the end of their workday, as long as its waiting in our inbox the next day since we know we’re not doing anything with it until 7am Central time.

    12. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      That’s how I understand the words to work, but the majority of those I’m surrounded by expect “By DATE” to be interchangeable with “By EoD on DATE.” My solution mirrors Alison’s; I just use EoD instead of CoB because my day ending at CoB is rarely reliable.

    13. Sara without an H*

      Many happy hours can be spent hashing over the meaning of “due”. My recommendation to the OP is to keep it simple and specific: “The document is due by 5:00 p.m. EST on x date.” Spell it out. A lot of documents will then be submitted at 4:59 and 30 seconds, but at least you won’t get drawn into arguments about what “close of business” means.

      You may not need to specify the time zone if your organization is located in one city. If you have people working across time zones, and you need the document by 5:00 p.m. your time, spell that out.

      1. All I got was a watch*

        Exactly, I had someone tell me once that “close of business” meant 8:00 am the next morning. After that I was specific 1:00 pm (did not want to get into the argument of noon vs. midnight.)

    14. Jacey*

      Boy am I glad I’m learning about the “by” minefield in the comments here instead of by experience at work! ;)

    15. Mockingdragon*

      I totally disagree, “on x date” and “by x date” mean the same thing, during the work day of X date. If someone says “I need it by Friday” and they actually wanted it Thursday, I’d be confused! Why not just say you need it Thursday?

    16. Mr. Shark*

      Yes, when I read the letter, I was surprised when Alison said that she believed it meant end of the day, but I couldn’t pinpoint why until someone mentioned that the letter specifically said “by”. The use of “by the 15th” means that it should be ready for the person before the 15th, so they can review it on the 15th. Otherwise, it really is, for the receiver, only available on the 16th for them.
      So I agree completely. On means anytime that day, even the COB. By means before that day.

    17. m*

      I actually wonder if this is more of an ongoing communications issue than a deadline issue. A panicked 6am (!!!) email says to me that the person writing isn’t clear on the status of the project and therefore if they can actually expect it by the end of the day. Not that I’m condoning panicked 6am emails but I also know the feeling of realizing its the day something is due and you have no idea if its ready or not and need to know if you’re going to have to shift gears to get it done.

  6. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

    “However, a month into the job, my boss asked me to make a schedule for when I intend to “deep clean” the office, and told me they used to have cleaners come thrice weekly, but stopped to save money.”

    I took this to mean that the decision to drop the cleaning service just been been made. But looking at it again, I see that was just my assumption, and it really is not explicitly stated.

    On the other hand, if the decision to fire the cleaners was a brand new one, that would explain why being expected to deep clean was news to the LW. But it really isn’t spelled out.

    1. JelloStapler*

      Even if it’s new, it does not fall on LW. End Stop. But *especially* since she is not seeing any extra compensation from the money they’re saving.

    2. LW1*

      During the interview process the fact that some cleaning would be required was noted. Deep cleaning was not mentioned until I was asked to make a schedule. The cleaners had been eliminated prior to my hiring. The communication of all this in the interview process was vague.

      1. NeutralJanet*

        I’m just curious, if the cleaners were eliminated prior to your hiring, and you were only informed that you were expected to clean the bathrooms and so forth after having worked there a month, were the bathrooms disgusting by that point, or had someone else been cleaning them? This seems like such poor planning on the company’s part on so many levels!

        1. LW1*

          Just saw this! The bathrooms had been cleaned right before I started and the few weeks after that were pretty light on staff – we didn’t have many meetings and multiple people were WFH or traveling. So they were getting a little noticably dirty but not as bad as if we’d had our normal amount of people in the office. But yes, it was very poor planning.

  7. Pool Lounger*

    My partner works for a Fortune 100 company and they only ask “tell me about a time when” questions. Answers must have real life examples. They’re more flexible with how good examples are for outside hires but if you’re internal you’re expected to have good, relevant answers. Hypothetical answers don’t tell you much.

    1. MK*

      Ok, but not everyone has encountered every situation the interviewer might want to know about. This tactic only makes sense if they accept “I haven’t actually been in such a situation before” as a legitimate answer and don’t hold it against the candidate.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        When done well, you’re asking about skills and experiences that a qualified candidate will have had — that’s the point of asking about those things, so that you can probe into things that are necessary for the role. (Of course, not every interviewer does it well.)

        1. Wendy*

          It also helps the interviewer evaluate how good the candidate is at thinking on their feet and still sounding positive/tactful/assertive/truthful – that’s not an important skill for every job, but it is for a lot of them. If the person I’m interviewing tends to get flustered, or blurt out something that’s technically true but doesn’t show them in a good light, I might want to know that upfront.

          1. TiredEmployee*

            As long as it’s actually relevant to the job, otherwise you run up against disability discrimination laws.

            1. Starbuck*

              Do you really, though? I definitely get how this can be a discriminatory practice, but I’m wondering if anyone would actually have a case based on something like that. Honestly curious, it would be helpful for me to know.

      2. Green great dragon*

        If someone genuinely doesn’t have an example or a related example we’ll ask a hypothetical instead, but a good hypothetical won’t be as high scoring as a good example. So we’re marking someone with relevant experience higher than someone without relevant experience, which seems right!

      3. r*

        It certainly makes sense to “hold it against” the candidate if the situation being asked about is representative of an important part of the job and you want someone with experience in that.

        See what Green Dragon Wrote at January 12, 2022 at 3:26 am

      4. LDN Layabout*

        These questions don’t tend to be super highly specific though, it’s not a ‘tell us about a time when it was 23C and raining on the third Sunday in August’, it’s more ‘tell us about a time when it was humid and rainy’.

        And a good interviewer will take into account if a slightly different answer from the candidate fits the bill, even if it’s not exact.

        (I had the exact thing happen recently when I was asked ‘describe a situation where X happened and what you did to get to Y’ and my answer was more along the lines of ‘Actually X happened, I did A, B & C, which led to the decision that carrying out Y would be detrimental for Z reasons’)

        1. Teapot Librarian*

          Similarly, I had an interview where I couldn’t think of an example that met the question, so I said something along the lines of “I think what you’re trying to get at with this question is X, so let me tell you about a different situation that I think addresses X.”

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I just flubbed a super general “tell me about a time” question the other day for this exact reason. Of course, I didn’t think of a good answer until the following day. :P I like the way you worded this, too. I may steal it.

            Dating analogy: someone is flirting but you don’t realize it until after they’ve left.

          2. Miss Muffet*

            Yes, I’ve tweaked answers like this before, too. The thing to do is to be honest and say that’s what you’re doing. “I haven’t had that exact situation but I did have this that was pretty similar” or something like that, or like you say, Teapot Librarian, acknowledging what you think they’re trying to get at.
            But having situations like this sorta queued up is a good thing for interviews. Especially things where there have been difficult situations (clients, employees, deadlines, etc.) On both sides of interviews, I have found these to be interesting and more enlightening about a person’s actual skills.

        2. Peter*

          Building on that comment, if I’m recruiting for (say) a regional manager for a fast food chain, with most candidates being branch managers, the question might be:
          “Tell me about a time when you have had to decide whether to close a branch early for safety reasons, how you made the decision and the steps you took to implement and monitor your decision”

          I might expect someone to talk about last year’s blizzard, but would be happy if the candidate talked about a power cut and another could talk about a car crashing into the drive-through which meant that part of the branch was closed but the main foyer was open, and how the additional traffic, parking and footfall was managed safely, efficiently and in a cost-effective manner.
          The important question is that the interviewer gets an understanding of the thought processes and communication styles, tries to understand how you weigh up the different priorities and gets an insight into whether you panic under pressure.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            And if you get someone who says “that literally never came up,” either they aren’t as experienced as you need, or the situation did come up and they didn’t recognize it, which is also useful knowledge.

            Example: “Tell me about a time you had a disappointed customer, and how you handled it.” You might think it makes you look good to say you’ve never ever had a disappointed customer, but it really just makes you look like you don’t notice whether your customers are happy or not.

            1. Miss Muffet*

              I recently had one that asked when I had to work though something with someone who had different values than I had and I thought that was such an odd thing to ask. In my roles, “different values” isn’t exactly a thing we have to deal with often. I ended up having to tweak the question a little to get to an answer that I think addressed what they were looking for but it really had me stuck for a second.

            2. Cat Tree*

              Yeah, I once asked all candidates for an example of having too many tasks and how they prioritized them. One guy said he would work longer to get everything done. That was not the flex he thought it was.

          2. Green great dragon*

            Yes! And if you’ve genuinely never faced it, Option B might be a time a staff member was unwell and you had to decide whether to send them home (not as good, but could be enough) while option C is that you’ve never done that but you would consider… (least good, may just been you’ve read the manual). Neither of these is an automatic fail, but are weaker answers than someone who has had that situation and has reacted appropriately.

            The worst answer of all would be ‘I had that and decided to keep it open because we should never shut early’. That should be an automatic fail.

      5. bamcheeks*

        That’s exactly what makes the difference between feeling confident that a candidate can do the job and that they can’t, though– you want the one who HAS been in a situation where a parent didn’t come to collect their child at the expected time and they had to figure out what to do next. Someone who has never been in that situation and can’t tell you about a “close enough” situation is no good to you if the job description is, “be the person who figures out what to do next when a parent doesn’t come and collect their child at the expected time”. You haven’t got the information to assess whether that’s something the candidate can do.

        The “unfair” bit might be where Candidate A goes, “That hasn’t happened to me personally, but I can tell you about the process that we are supposed to use in that situation at my current employers” or “I haven’t been in that exact situation, but I can tell you about another similar situation where I had to figure out what I do next and a child’s welfare was involved”, and Candidate B has both those experiences but doesn’t realise they are relevant. But again, that still kind of speaks to the suitability of the candidates– Candidate A understands the role well enough to know that this question is asking about child welfare policies and how you implement them in real life, and Candidate B doesn’t seem to get that. Candidate A is probably still who you want. But even if they’re not, you can only judge a candidate on the information they give you– if Candidate B is actually the perfect person but can’t demonstrate that in the recruitment process, that’s rubbish but there’s a point where you have to accept that the process isn’t perfect. And there is some very strong evidence to suggest that structured competency questions are one of the best tools that the process has.

        That said, a really important part of learning how to do interviews well is learning to work with your interviewer to help them get the information they need. They know the “tell me about a time you have..” question is designed to assess your problem solving skills and understanding of child welfare policies and procedures, and if you can’t come up with the perfect situation, it’s usually OK to ask something like, “I’ve got an example related to problem solving, and an example related to child welfare policies and procedures although i wasn’t the decision maker in that second situation, just at an assistant level– which one would be more useful here?” Either of those might give them an opportunity to probe your understanding of the subject and decide whether you’re ready to step up to that responsibility even if you haven’t held it before.

        1. pancakes*

          I don’t think it’s at all unfair to think Candidate B isn’t as strong a candidate as they otherwise might be on account of not being able to think clearly about the relevance of their experiences.

          1. bamcheeks*

            yeah, I don’t either– I kind of meant that if you were comparing to a completely “pure” process, then technically you could argue that that’s testing for “ability to talk about [skill]”, rather than ability to perform [skill]. But in the real world, you’ve got to actually gather the information on people’s skills in order to assess it, and therefore being able to talk about it is necessary.

      6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        When I have run into a situation I haven’t encountered before, I usually say, “I haven’t personally been in role A when B happened, but when I was in role C and encountered something similar I did X.” Then I try to tie in times I have seen A handled by others and the bits I thought worked that I would try if I ran into A. If an interviewer asked a question about an experience I have never seen, never witnessed, and never heard of being handled, I’d ask how often it was likely to occur, because if it was common to this role and the role required experience doing it, I’d be a bad fit.

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          This is how I’ve dealt with those questions when I don’t have experience in the exact situation asked.

      7. BethDH*

        I’ve seen this a lot, and if the questions are well-selected for the role there won’t be many times a viable candidate for the role will not have experienced the situation, but if there is one or they have a hard time answering with a specific single example, they’ll find something relevant. For example, if they haven’t “had to resolve a conflict with a coworker” they’ll talk about how they manage interacting with coworkers who are in conflict with other colleagues or how they handle conflict with a customer or something.

      8. AthenaC*

        When I interview someone, if they don’t have an immediate response to a question as stated, I’ll clarify / broaden the question a bit to give the candidate more context on what we’re looking for, and even skip it and come back if they can’t think of anything right away. Not every question is a home run but I’ve yet to encounter a situation where I can’t get enough info from a candidate to make a decision either way.

        Behavioral questions can be done well if you adapt to the candidate.

      9. WantonSeedStitch*

        If someone hasn’t had that experience, I do want to know that, but in that case, adding a hypothetical answer is better than nothing. Especially if you can relate it to something you HAVE experienced. “Well, I’ve never had to do X, but I’ve had to do Y. I handled it like this, and so I think I’d do something similar with X.”

      10. Librarian of SHIELD*

        There have been a few interviews I’ve done where the person doesn’t have an example, but I’ve been able to expand the question so it will work for them. So, for the question “tell me about a time when you worked with someone who was difficult for you to get along with,” if the person can’t think of a workplace example I’ll say “this doesn’t necessarily have to be paid work, it could be someone you encountered while volunteering or when you were in school together.” That usually gets us to an example.

        Also, don’t feel stressed to tell a story with a happy ending. If the question is “tell us about a time you dealt with a frustrated customer” and the only story that pops into your head is one that ended badly, tell that story and then say what you would have done differently knowing what you know now, or acknowledge that there are some situations where conflicts can’t be resolved and those are difficult, but there’s always something to be learned from it.

        1. Coyote Tango*

          I think the “ended badly” stories in some ways are even more helpful to me as a recruiter. I like working with people that understand that sometimes you can do everything right and not get the correct outcome. Practicality and coping with bad outcomes are just as important, skillwise, how to do the thing.

      11. DKLKEK*

        I think you may be interpreting the questions t0o literally, the goal of the questions is to use real examples from your work so you can have clear, concrete conversations about how they approach work. You can tweak the scenario in your response to make your experience fit.

        So for example, if a question was “Tell me about a time you had to resolve an issue when a client was unhappy”.

        You may think, “I’ve never had an unhappy client”, but you don’t just say that you can say something like. “Well, happily I’ve always had happy clients, but here’s an example where there was tension with an internal partner that we had to resolve.” Or “To be honest, my approach is to communicate really openly with clients to make sure we head off issues before the client gets the to point I’d describe them as unhappy. As an example, let me tell you about my client on project X where 3 weeks into the project I realized that there was a potential mismatch in expectations, and how I went about clarifying things and tweaking how our team was approaching things to make sure issues didn’t arise further down the project.”

        What you don’t want to do is say “issues never come up, all my clients are happy, here’s a sanitized example of when things went perfectly”, if this is truly experience you are blessed, but no one will believe you.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          Big agree with your last paragraph. Anyone who has worked with clients or customers for any length of time knows 100% happiness is impossible. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you, or their expectations are extremely unrealistic. Even the best organization makes mistakes. Dealing with unhappy clients is part of the job, and someone who tries to say they’ve never dealt with it would come off as terribly out of touch.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I completely agree with your last paragraph.

          Upthread I gave the example of “tell us about a time you worked with someone who was difficult for you to get along with.” The worst possible answer to that question is that it’s never happened because you always get along with everyone. I know a lot of people think that’s what the interviewer wants to hear, but I actually want to hear how you cope with being around people who irritate you. Because when you spend 40 hours a week with other people, even if you generally like them, something is going to happen that’s going to frustrate you. I need to know that when that happens, you know how to deal with it appropriately.

      12. Pool Lounger*

        There are ways to answer for situations you haven’t exactly been in. You say you haven’t had that exact thing, but similarly… A goid interviewer also shouldn’t be asking questions you won’t have an answer for. This specific company has a list of many, many approved questions and interviewers choose the most relevant or most important to ask. In this case if you don’t have an example you probably aren’t right for the job.

      13. LinuxSystemsGuy*

        I think the key is not to get too far into the weeds with the situation you’re asking about. When I’m interviewing a sys admin/dev ops person I’ll often ask them to tell me about a time they solved an in-depth, tricky technical issue. From this I can glean information about their process, about their ability to communicate, and get some idea about what they consider a significant, non-trivial technical problem.

        Anyone with more that a year of system support type experience will have solved at least one problem in that time which required more than a quick google search, so it’s always a fair question (I don’t hire front line support, so every candidate I interview has at least *some
        * experience). Now if I was asking them to tell me a bout a time that the storage network went down and they had to coordinate with network engineering and the vendor to get a fix in place… I should prepare to be disappointed.

      14. Sometimes Charlotte*

        “I actually haven’t been in that situation before” is a legitimate answer, but if I need someone experienced in handling X situation, of course not having that experience is going to count against them. I’m asking the question because I need someone who can do the job!

    2. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      Same with me. I work for a very large bank and questions lean heavily on the behavioral. I as an interviewer (particularly when I ran a program for CPA students recently out of school) I would start the interview by explaining how I was proceeding and letting them know they could use examples from past jobs, school or other parts of their life – these applicants usually have more limited work experience.

      For myself when interviewing last year for my high mid-management role- I wrote down on paper in advance work/projects that demonstrated key skills they were looking for. So when I was asked in my interview about a time I coordinated complex critical documentation on a deadline I easily referenced the time I had to pull together the regulator deck, and so on. It is pretty easy to prepare for these types of interviews and it is better to showcase your skills.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        This is a great strategy if you know in advance that the interview is going to be behavioral/experience questions.

      2. JLP*

        This is the same way I prepare for interviews. I list out projects, situations, and stories that highlight the skills I want to highlight. I do research on the types of questions asked for the role I’m applying for and pair the stories with the different themes of the questions. And then I practice telling the stories in a succinct way that highlights the different themes or questions I would use the story for. I bring a list of those stories to the interview, along with a list of questions to ask. Ultimately, I usually end up telling stories for most interview questions anyway, so this prep works for me and my brain.

    3. The OTHER Other*

      I’ve used lots of these kinds of questions (though often with different phrasing) when interviewing and find them very useful. It goes without saying that the questions should be about skills and experience relevant to the job but IMO these are among the most useful questions to ask, it’s odd to me that the OP thought 4 or 5 of them were excessive.

    4. Pool Lounger*

      I work in definitely not Fortune 100, definitely not tech or the business world, and every interview I’ve had has also had plenty of “time when” questions. The one interview that didn’t I bombed because I was prepared for “tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult patron” and not “what would your coworkers say about you/what animal would you be if you could be any animal.” And this website has discussed at length that asking about a candidate’s managerial strategy tells you next to nothing, but asking about examples of their management tells you a lot.

  8. John Smith*

    #2. I’d be concerned at the recruiters approach. If they’re all talk about themselves, that says to me they’re not interested in the candidate as much as they should be or are trying to sell themselves and cover up how bad they are. Just my opinion from my experience. I’d run away.

    1. Wendy*

      Yep, that sounded like a red flag to me too. A recruiter who hypes the job without trying to find out if you’re a good candidate could be shilling for a MLM, a commission-only sales job that everyone quits after their first day, etc. Those types of “jobs” depend on getting lots of new recruits through quickly and usually it shows in the hiring practices :-\

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Thirding this likely being a major flag. The only way it’s not is if OP was a unicorn attending a woo fest.

        I had a similar screening once and thought it was bizarre but wanted the work and accepted anyway. Turns out the dude was a massive creep and for his purposes he didn’t need to know anything more than what I looked like and that I had basic enough skills to justify being there.

        We don’t know the gender dynamics here and mine is obviously not a universal experience. But, if OP is motivated by culture issues at their current job, an internal recruiter who doesn’t seem interested in the candidate’s skills is a GIGANTIC flag of worse culture problems at prospective new company. Or a mess of a startup. Or a dodgy MLM etc as per Wendy’s comment.

        1. OP #2*

          OP 2 here!
          I ended up turning down the second round interview for all the reasons you and others stated. However, I do want to say this was not a MLM and a very established tech company. I do think while the recruiter had good intentions, it was a combination of they were junior, extremely extroverted, and trying to sell the role.

          1. DKLKEK*

            Yes, I’ve found recruiters are often very sales oriented. They generally need candidates to just be vaguely viable for the role so that they are giving the hiring manager a flow of reasonable people to consider. They don’t really care if you are perfect.

            The red flag is that the recruiter didn’t align on salary expectations, most companies want that done by the recruiter so it doesn’t waste time of the team. I still find this more commonly is them asking you about salary expectations rather than them telling you their range, but it’s part of the process.

            The fact that it’s not either means: 1) The company pays like dog sh*t and wants to woo people with whatever weird thing they think matters more than money. Or 2) The company knows they pay well for their industry and aren’t worried about losing appropriate candidates later in the process.

            So the two extremes of the pay scale basically, but more commonly bad.

            1. OP #2*

              I suspect it was the former, considering they were building a whole new department and trying to hire a lot of folks all at once. That also was the biggest red flag to me.

              1. Wisteria*

                Mm, I’ve never had a salary conversation in a screening interview with HR. That would not be a red flag to me that they are trying to conceal the pay. In fact, based on my experience, which is typical for my particular field but might be unusual elsewhere, nothing about what you describe is a red flag. HR screening calls are typically very shallow interviews where they do want to tell you all about the position and the company, establish a baseline fit, and also want to make sure *you* don’t have any personality red flags. Also, you don’t typically work everyday with the recruiter. So whatever that person is like is not really relevant to your experience at the company. Moving to the next step and talking to the manager will help you evaluate that.

                Trying to hire a lot of folks at once to build a capability can be exciting! You get to get in on the ground floor and be one of the people who shapes the group. I’m in that position myself at an established company. If it were a new company still trying to make a name for itself, then it’s riskier, but at an established company, there is just enough risk to make it interesting but enough of a solid background that they are not likely to go under with the whole endeavor. That’s me, though. I’m pretty risk averse, but this type of opportunity said “growth” not “red flag” to me.

          2. The OTHER Other*

            It sounded to me as though the recruiter was new or just not very good. If he was an extrovert maybe his default mode was “when in doubt, just keep talking!”

    2. English Rose*

      I think it depends. The internal recruiter may be in “sell, sell” mode, but the actual hiring manager and job could be great. I’d be more suspicious if it was an agency recruiter.
      I’m an internal recruiter and for years I felt really out of sync with many of my colleagues over the years – especially those with an agency background – because I’m deeply introverted and they are often… not. But I’ve come to realise that listening to candidates is far more valuable than talking at them, and it’s a shame #2 had that experience.
      And yes, ask about salary range before going further.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        See I’d be much less suspicious if it WERE an agency recruiter… it makes sense for them to be in “sell sell” mode on both sides so they have a better chance of getting their placement fee.
        An internal recruiter should be far more vested in finding the right person for the role. If they’re repeatedly bringing in poorly screened candidates to interview with the hiring managers, surely that becomes a performance issue?

        1. Anonym*

          I explain more below, but it’s possible that they already see you as a desirable candidate and that’s why they’re selling the role to you. No opinion on best practices, but it’s not always a bad sign.

      2. WomEngineer*

        To #2’s credit, it’s jarring if you’re not expecting the hard sell (which I’ve only encountered with agencies).

      3. Anonym*

        Yeah, I had this experience recently, and it turned out totally fine. I was an internal candidate for the role and in retrospect, I think the (internal) recruiter really was just trying to convince me to take it. I had prepared pretty thoroughly but barely got to speak about my experience in the first two interviews because they kept telling me about the job! I was a bit nonplussed, but tried to at least get a few questions in, which they answered. I finally got asked questions in the third round peer panel interview, which felt much more like what I was expecting.

        I did get the job and learned later that the grand-boss really, really wanted someone from my old department, plus a mutual contact had referred me. Peculiarity explained!

    3. Yersinia*

      I don’t think this is universally true! I agree the fact that they didn’t even allow any time for OP3’s questions IS concerning! However, I like it when a prospective employer dedicates one interview out of several to giving me enough information about the company, job and culture for me to work out if they’d be a good fit for me! There is usually plenty of time in the process for them to also assess whether I’m a good fit for them. I’m (hopefully!) more likely to quit than get fired, so surely makes sense for them to make sure they’re the right environment for my preferences?

      That said, in this case it’s a bit of a red flag that OP3 couldn’t get a word in edgeways…

      1. ECE Policy Wonk*

        Same. I expect to hear a lot about the organization, role, culture, etc. When an interview is only asking about me and making me prove myself, I get turned off pretty quickly–even if there *is* a little time for Qs, it’s usually not enough to get a good understanding of the way the org. functions and how I’d fit in.

        So clearly there’s a balance–interviewers want to know about the candidate and the candidate also wants to know about the role. Too much or too little of one is a red flag in either case.

    4. anonymous73*

      That was my initial thought too. I had a recruiter call me last year when I was looking for a job and I couldn’t get a word in. After listening to him drone on and on, he asked for my salary requirements and we weren’t even in the same book, much less on the same page. And not only had he called me and left a VM, he emailed me AND texted me too, all within 5 minutes. From that point forward I ignored those type of persistent recruiters because they’re just looking to fill a quota.

    5. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I try not red flag employers too hard based on recruiters. More often than not the recruiter doesn’t even work for the company, they’re just contracted to find candidates. Most often they don’t know enough about the in-depth aspects of the requirements to vet candidates beyond resume keywords and other simple tests.

      Most often a recruiter has already gotten most of the info they are able to use from your resume, and they’re really more interested in selling you on the position then vetting you. They’ll leave that to the hiring team. Also, if they give you enough information on the position, you’re more likely to know whether to self-select out than they’re likely to be able to tell if you’re qualified. “Oh, you’re looking for a teapot washer? I’m more of a teapot dryer. The difference in subtle, and unless you’re in the industry you might miss it, but I don’t think I’m the right fit here”

  9. Felis alwayshungryis*

    #5 – I always took it to be by the end of the day on the agreed date. Though half the time you get the thing to them on that Very Necessary Date and it’s like pulling teeth to get any revisions back.

    1. Scarlet2*

      Oh yeah, jobs that are “extremely urgent, with super tight non-negotiable deadlines”, where you’re asked to implement changes made by the reviewer 6 weeks later…

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        Oooh I hate when that happens!

        “We absolutely need this done today, drop absolutely everything else to ensure that this gets done right now!”

        [3 weeks later]

        “Hey we took a look and have some edits”

        So maddening! Especially when I busted my butt to make your deadline. This fortunately doesn’t happen as much anymore since we all put our foot down and insisted they address it, but for a while it was a constant stream of we-need-this-now-jk-we-didn’t-look-at-it.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I feel like the better intermediate companies have gotten a lot stricter in the past few years about trying to push consequences back on the client, rather than all flow down to people who then refuse to work on the next project.

      2. Generic Name*

        So true. A coworker and I worked on our respective holiday vacations to finish a project by Dec 31. Submitted it that morning, and I had to email the client again to ensure they received it. I’m sure we’ll get asked for revisions in a month or two, and I will have to tell them our contract has ended.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Especially when you specially asked for comments on the first one or two in case design issues only became relevant with a couple of examples in hand, and were told it was totally fine, so that was the basis for the following 23… and two months later it’s “Oh, we finally looked at this and would like to change a bunch of things in the basic design.”

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      You mean like Old Boss who needed something absolutely finished before I went home Friday because she was going to look at it over the weekend? And yet it was untouched on her desk Monday morning?

  10. AG*

    Regarding the answer to #4, does anyone have more experience with giving candidates some questions before the interview? It sound really interesting, and I liked the discussion at the linked post. Maybe Alison has more experience with that now?

    1. Harper the Other One*

      I haven’t done it as an interviewer but I’ve experienced it as an interviewee, and I really liked it! There was still plenty of room for them to see how I thought “on the fly” through their questions expanding on the situation – or natural conversations that extended from my answers – but it allowed me to give much more thoughtful answers.

      The other thing that interviewer did that I loved was tell us ahead of time to think about what we might want to do with the role in our first year there; it was an interesting exercise for me and I’m sure told them a lot about their candidates and who would be the right fit.

    2. Hiring Manager #9*

      Yes, after I read about that idea on AAM, I did provide candidates with one of the questions I planned to ask, and it has been helpful, particularly when hiring people with less experience interviewing for jobs.

    3. Washi*

      I’ve done it! I think the difference was partly the quality of answers but also how much easier it was to compare between candidates. When someone gave a weak/hypothetical example, I wasn’t left wondering if they just couldn’t think of a better one on the fly, but that knew that really is their best answer (or they hadn’t prepped at all, which is also not great). It was more clear who had relevant experience to draw on.

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      I have done it and they were seriously the best interviews I have ever done. We e-mailed the questions 1-2 days ahead when we were confirming the interview times/dates and holy snorkballs, the quality of the responses was awesome and the interviews went so much faster because the candidates had everything in the front of their mind. I know people worry that people are going to somehow fake answers, but if the questions are good you can’t really fake answers without it being obvious. 10/10 would do again.

    5. BethDH*

      I have done it and experienced it. It seemed to work well from my perspective on the hiring side. I hated the version when I was the candidate, but I think that was because they used the advanced prep situation to make it into an assignment without saying that. So don’t use it as a way to sneak in unusually complex questions.

    6. irene adler*

      I was told- by a recruiter no less- that one objective of the behavioral questions is to test for quick-thinking. They want to see how well you ‘”think on your feet.” So no, you won’t be given the questions ahead of time.

      I sure failed that one! After about the 8th question, I was at a loss for responses. Yes, I have a list of dozens of behavioral questions. Yes, I practiced. No, my list did not include some of their questions- which were not ‘run of the mill’ behavioral questions.

      Probably for the best that I did not get hired by that company.

    7. WomEngineer*

      I had this once with an external recruiter, with answers. I guess it helped, but the job/culture wasn’t the right fit for me.

      As an engineer, I wish companies would say in advance what they expect on technical questions. For example, “what would you consider when designing ____?” or “What qualities would you want in a material for this application?”

      1. Long Time Reader*

        I did a series of interviews last year and we decided to send a “question pool” ahead of time- a page of questions that we tend to pull from, based on resume/cover letter/etc. it was great!! We had much deeper/better conversations with the candidates, and one candidate still couldn’t answer coherently and seemed really unprepared. Probably needless to say, that person didn’t move forward.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      I haven’t given questions in advance, but I have advised people to come prepared to talk about past experiences in the workplace that show how they deal with challenges and stressful situations, how they interact with colleagues, how they learn from mistakes or failures, etc.

    9. cubone*

      I recently experienced it as an interviewee. The role was in healthcare and I got an email from an HR person (separate from the scheduling the Zoom conversations) who said they have a policy to offer all candidates the opportunity to join a Zoom 15 minutes prior to the interview and receive the questions.

      I honestly didn’t think it would help me all that much, as I have good practice with responding to the spontaneity of interviews, but it opened the door for me to ask if instead could the interviewers write the question in the zoom chat as they’re saying it, which I find very very helpful for other accommodations (ADHD).

    10. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve done a variation where we give the interviewees some of the questions so they can prepare and we have a few more that they’ll need to answer on the fly. For customer service it matters if a person can answer an unexpected question well, so we still wanted to have that as an element in the interview. It went quite well.

    11. korangeen*

      I desperately wish more hiring managers would provide some questions ahead of time. I often ask if they can let me know anything specific I can prepare, and they never do. Every job interview, I have to play a game of “guess what they’re going to ask” and spend hours upon hours preparing notes on possible questions, but a lot of the time I’ve guessed wrong. My brain and memory simply aren’t googleable. For a lot of questions, especially “tell me a time when” questions, I have to spend some time thinking about it and maybe go through some old work materials to jog my memory. It’s so frustrating. Do you want legitimate, thoughtful answers to your questions? Yes? Then give me some time to prepare, geez! As a video producer, when I’m interviewing someone on camera, I always try to provide them some questions ahead of time, especially if they’re someone who doesn’t do on-camera interviews on that subject a lot. If you actually want good answers from someone, it’s counterproductive to put someone on the spot in an already unusually stressful environment.

      One argument I’ve heard against providing questions ahead of time is that they don’t want to give you time to have someone else write your answers for you. But.. like.. what?? There are many ways to check my trustworthiness and that I am who I say I am that don’t involve making my interview overly difficult and unproductive. Look at all my work online that has my name on it, my face on it. Check with my references. And, I would never do this but, even if somehow someone else HAD written my answer for me, if it accurately described my specific experience and skills, that still answers the question and gives you what you need, right? Like, people get help with writing their resumes all the time, and that doesn’t mean they’re lying about their experience and skills, assuming they don’t claim professional resume-writing as their skill.

      1. korangeen*

        Also, when I was on the hiring side of things for a couple positions on my team, I was never allowed to provide candidates questions ahead of time. So I would tell them multiple times throughout the interview, “take time to think about it if you need, and if you think of more relevant information later, feel free to email!”

    12. Hollywood Handshake*

      I interview high schoolers, and especially working with young people who have little experience interviewing, providing questions ahead of time makes a huge difference. It provides some context and helps them know what to expect, and on our end we get far more substantive answers, and can tell who is most interested because they have used the resources we sent them and put in the time to prepare. I see it as a win-win.

    13. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      In my spouse’s field it is common to give the candidate the interview questions 45-60 minutes before the start of your interview. Gives you time to sort through your experiences and find the best examples to use in the interview.

    14. NJAnonymous*

      I haven’t done that when I interview for my business line, but I also don’t expect applicants to have answers to everything. I’d prefer the be honest and say something like “I don’t have/can’t think of an example of that specific scenario, but something similar is….” OR if they straight up tell me “While I don’t have something specific to share, in that situation I would…” OR “I don’t have something specific there, but I’m very interested to grow in the area of blah blah blah”. When I’m hiring for entry level jobs, I also try to set it in context of work they’ve done at school, for example. If I want to know how they’ve reacted or solved for team miscommunication, I’ll include a lead like “either in the workplace or as part of a group project, for example”.

      If someone truly can’t answer with specifics for some of the questions, or they can’t think on their feet to come up with ways to redirect in ways similar to what I outline above, they’re typically not a good fit for my group anyway. Those are the skillsets we need coming in or need to see evidence that they can jump in and adjust quickly.

      Otherwise Alison’s answer is spot on. My interview question list is probably 70% these types of questions.

    15. Annie E. Mouse*

      I have, sort of. My company has a pretty standard interview structure. There are places where the hiring manager chooses or customizes a question, but it’s very much #3A – Question about using *important skill* and the top important skills must be listed in the job description. Candidates get a guide with hints that don’t spell it out directly, but it’s pretty easy to connect the dots. As a candidate, I really appreciated it. I knew what was going to be asked about and was able to spend my preparation time focused on really applying experiences to the role. As an interviewer, I like seeing more about how someone prepared and what they came up with when they had time to think versus how they think on their feet. (And I could always throw out a curve ball if I just wanted to see if they could think on their feet.)

  11. Somebody*

    For situations like #3 is encountering, in the UK you an get in touch with the individual credit score companies and ask for things to be removed from your credit score.

    Somebody made a fraudulent application for store credit in my name, then didn’t pay it, and I was able to get that removed from my reports. I did have to contact the companies separately, though

    1. D*

      At least in the US, (there could be different setups, but given the letter…) this OP probably signed a cardholder agreement agreeing to personally ensure the bill is paid. Not the same a stranger opening up a card in their name.

      1. The Ghost of Cable Street*

        Uk based too. I wouldn’t sign an agreement like that. I’ve seen a few people get stuck for charges when a company has gone bust.

    2. MK*

      Sure, but you were claiming fraud. The OP isn’t disputing that it is her card, or that the charges were made by her, or that the bill wasn’t paid.

    3. Bagpuss*

      YEs, but that wouldn’t be relevant here as the card is in her name and she made the charges.

      I don’t understand why the business can’t have a corporate card and pay the bill directly.

      1. Dain*

        With my husband’s former employer, all the cards were corporate but had to be assigned to a specific person’s name. And yes, any late bills definitely showed up on his credit report. They have to have an actual person, the individual the card is assigned to, as a responsible party according to the finance department. He was out on medical leave, they didn’t make a payment for 4 months

        1. Anonymous4*

          Oh my gosh! And no one stepped in to make sure that the credit card bills were paid while the finance clerk was out of the office?? Wow! My manager would have been on the phone to Finance, raising Cain.

          1. Dain*

            Because he was on medical leave, he was blocked access from Concord. He was plant manager in the card was used to cover monthly expenses at the facility-Cintas, garbage pickup, similar Services. Since he could not access cancoor, he was not able to file the expense reports. They told him for three months that others were taking care of it until we got a very angry letter from Bank of America about the credit card balance. It’s been a year and we’re still trying to get it removed from our credit report as late payment

  12. Agent Diane*

    OP5 – be more explicit than “end of working day on X”. The end of the day is a vague concept and people interpret it in different ways. And that’s here in the UK where we’re all in the same time zone.

    You might want to agree to something like “4pm on X”. That means the client can see you’ve delivered before the end of the working day, and allows time for you to do some admin wrapping it up.

  13. Grey Coder*

    OP4 those “tell me about a time when” questions are really good for making sure that you both have the same idea about what the job is. A while back I applied for a strategy director job, but at the interview all the questions were aimed at team lead activities and nothing about strategy. (This was in an area where team leads typically do a combination of line management, project management, and individual contributor work.) Now I’ve been a team lead, but it wasn’t what I was expecting to be asked about so I was unprepared. It turned out that in that organisation the salary scale for “team lead” jobs didn’t pay enough to attract good candidates, so the hiring manager had bumped up the job description to director level, but they were really just hiring team leads.

    1. Amey*

      This is a really good point! I interviewed for a job once that was billed as providing 1:1 advice to service users but a number of the questions were focused on event planning. I didn’t answer those questions very well (as that wasn’t a big area of experience or interest for me) but it was very useful to me in realising that this role was more heavily weighted towards that area than I’d realised.

    2. The OTHER Other*

      This is hilariously dumb—people applying for team lead roles were turned off by the low salary, so they decided to call it a director’s role? As though directors will be thrilled with pay that team leads thought was too low?

      1. Grey Coder*

        Nah, they got the team lead role classified at the higher director’s salary in the organisation’s internal bureaucracy. So it was a tactic to increase the salary, at the expense of an inaccurate job description. It was a pretty weird situation — I guess I learned about the scale of that organisation’s bureaucracy though!

    3. NW Mossy*

      Yes – behavioral questions can be as useful for the candidate as they are for the interviewer!

      When I use them, I typically give a one-sentence setup before asking the question to cue why I’m asking for exactly this reason. I want candidates to have a real understanding of what I’m looking for and why I care about that skill/behavior so that they understand what the job’s going to be like.

      As an example, here’s one I’ve used before – “In this job, you’ll often find that you have more assignments than you can complete in a day. Tell me about a time when you had to prioritize between assignments and how you decided what you would (or wouldn’t!) do.”

      This one was super-important to me because it’s really hard for someone to succeed in that specific job if they struggle with that scenario. I don’t expect someone to be able to do everything in a day, but I do expect them to be able to assess the info they have and make reasonable choices about where to focus their energy. Someone who says “oh, first-in-first-out” or “I’d work until it was all done” is not going to thrive.

      1. Scarletb*

        That’s how I’ve often experienced them, too – a contextualising statement that indicates something about the values or workplace relevance of the question that will follow.

  14. No. 6*


    I’d go deep Tyvek. Complete PPE coverage from head to toe, with high protection mask, double thick gloves, and goggles. I would clean every inch of the place, from the light bulbs to the vents (pointedly during meetings), from the printer (when needed for important print jobs) to the bathroom (blocking off all till I decided people could use them again. Gallons of bleach is a good deterrent). And I’d use the noisiest wet/dry vac out there. This would take hours a day if done at a considered but leisurely pace during office hours, and with a clipboard fat with checklists. No other work would be done by me and little by anyone else. Malicious compliance? Hell yes!

    1. r*

      “I’d go deep Tyvek. Complete PPE coverage from head to toe, with high protection mask, double thick gloves, and goggles”

      Really? Have you done this sort of malicious compliance, buying stuff (even on the company dime)? Really?

      1. JimmyJab*

        Probably not, hence the phrase “I’d go” not I have gone . . . And comments like these are almost always meant as a “wouldn’t it be nice if we could . . .” not real actual advice.

        1. Jaybee*

          And those types of comments are obnoxious. That’s the point. It’s the same as if you were complaining about a jerk customer to your buddy after work and your buddy goes ‘I would’ve just told him to get lost!’ It’s not helpful, and when phrased that way, it’s abrasive and self-centered. ‘Don’t you just wish you could tell some customers to get lost?’ is worlds different.

          1. Green Post-Its*

            Yeah it’s annoying to read fan fiction where people come up with some movie-type story of how they’d do something witty or brave and and everyone would fall at their feet in awe. It’s not good discussion or advice, it’s just “aren’t I so smart!”

      2. Dwight Schrute*

        I mean if the company is wanting a deep clean then you need all of this equipment and chemicals to truly deep clean the office. Though I have a feeling the boss doesn’t truly mean deep clean.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      This is why we do our deep cleaning around holidays and times when we would be closed because a deep cleaning is very disruptive if you want a good deep clean.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I’m not sure the boss wanted a “deep” clean. He just wants it cleaned frequently. I worked as a janitor and people really don’t know what “clean” means, let alone the work involved to do it. There’s a difference between routine cleaning for daily use (dusting, vac, bathrooms), sanitation (disease prevention), and annual deep cleans to thoroughly polish the entire facility. You have to know what tools and cleaning products are used for each, plus learn precautions to protect yourself.

        More importantly, this is a business which does not respect the OP’s role. I’d go back to the boss and specify the limits of what cleaning OP is willing to do (bare minimum), pointing out that she is not trained in janitorial services and cannot complete this task safely. As an admin, the only cleaning I would do is wipe down a conference room after use, or clean up the coffee pot in the kitchen. An admin has many other duties.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yeah, I don’t think the boss means “deep clean” the same way commenters are describing. I’m assuming he means more like vacuuming/mopping floors and scrubbing toilets, the regular stuff a cleaning crew would do, except it’s going be extra right now because it’s likely been tidied up but not “cleaned” in weeks without a service.

    3. cubone*

      I love malicious compliance but honestly this sounds like a great way to end up with “wow you’re SO good at cleaning, we’ll never need to hire anyone again!”

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        My thought was “it’s malicious compliance, not malicious competence…”

  15. rudster*

    Re. LW3, Do companies typically pay the credit card bill themselves, or do they give you the money to pay it yourself after you file your expense report? Where I worked it was always the latter – the company CC was just in lieu of constantly having to get a cash advance for travel expenses, but you were always the one ultimately on the hook for it. So I never saw the point of the company CC and just used my own to get the rewards. How much money are we talking about? At this point I would just pay it myself and keep trying to shame the company into reimbursing me. And refuse to spend anything on the card until they fix it. As an aside, entrusting my credit rating to a third party’s payment habits seems completely insane!

    1. D*

      I’m guessing OP maybe doesn’t have the spare cash to float given they’re trying to buy a house in this market (not that they should ever have to float), the finance department maybe have some policies against individuals paying the card directly (could be a legitimate policy to avoid people going “oh I’ll just use this card on this personal shopping and then pay it myself later”), or some combination thereof. Otherwise, if there are no barriers, yes pay the $1,500 now and save the stress of debt collection calls while you get reimbursed from your company

      1. ecnaseener*

        Although, what would be the problem with someone using the “company” card for personal shopping and paying it off later if the card is actually in their name and it’s their credit score on the line rather than the company’s?

        1. Colette*

          Because it’s often guaranteed by the company – think of it like the company is cosigning for the card. It’s your responsibility, but they’re on the hook if you don’t pay it. So usually there is a policy that says you can’t use it for personal purchases. If you make one error in 10 years and pay it off quickly, it probably won’t be a problem, but you absolutely can be fired for not following the policy.

            1. Colette*

              I don’t know that they are – it’s entirely possible that the collections people will start with the employee and then move on to the company if the employee defaults.

        2. Anonymous4*

          Yeah, we’ve had people who got in trouble for getting careless with the company card. Sometimes someone will accidentally use the travel card to fill their car with gas, and that usually results in a stern finger-wagging, but when a bill comes through the Finance Dept and there’s no travel orders associated with it, Questions Will Be Asked.

          We had one guy who prided himself on cutting corners and sliding through forbidden territory, and he ‘accidentally’ pulled out his travel card to buy some golf clubs, oh gosh it was in the wrong place in his wallet, so sorry, he’d pay the bill right away, yadda yadda yadda, and he might have gotten away with it if he hadn’t been overheard laughing about it. “Hey, MY card was maxed out and the clubs were on sale, what can I say? har har har”

    2. DistantAudacity*

      I’m used to the latter – the card is in lieu of a cash advance.

      One advantage of a corporate card vs personal is credit limits: credit limit can be much higher, so that if you get stuck somewhere and it’s costly to get home/stay, you won’t hit your personal credit limits.
      Also, it doesn’t count towards your own personal debt total (in my location, loans, mortgages and credit card limits are all included when looking at total debt exposure).

    3. WellRed*

      I’ve never had a corporate card where I was responsible in any way for the bill getting paid. Expenses are submitted and the money people pay it. Shouldn’t be different than any other bill the company pays. Otherwise just give me the money as a cash advance.

      1. Nonny*

        Yeah, my pcard had my name and the company name on it. I actually had no way to pay it or even see if it had been paid. I had to submit receipts and provide appropriate billing codes, but I couldn’t pay it myself even if I wanted too.

        1. BethDH*

          Same here. Also, I’ve mostly worked at places that didn’t have to pay sales tax and it’s a really big hassle to take care of that without a purchasing card.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        I’ve had corporate cards but they never had my name on them! It was always the department name followed by the company name. (The first time I was given one I had some hesitation about using it – would I be questioned about the name? how should I sign? etc etc – but it was never an issue.) The thought of risking my own personal credit for company business doesn’t sit well with me.

    4. anonymous73*

      I’ve never had a company card, nor have I ever gotten a cash advance. I’ve always paid for expenses with my own card, and submitted an expense report for reimbursement.

      What I don’t understand is why she would be on the hook for the money. Yes the card has her name on it, but the account is with the company, so THEY are responsible for the bills. Why would it affect OP’s credit report?

      1. SPDM*

        Where I used to work, the corporate card was in our name and technically our legal responsibility so that if we did something bonkers that they didn’t want to pay for–strip clubs, champagne, whatever–they would never have to pay for it. In general, handing in receipts and getting it paid up by the company immediately was not a problem.

        It was a huge company that you have definitely heard of, which means that probably someone in the past screwed up and now it was everyone’s problem.

        Honestly, in this case, I’d at least look at the minimum payment ($25?) and probably pay it myself out of mortgage-related paranoia.

        1. anonymous73*

          It would have to have your name on it in order to use it, but again the account is with the company. I still don’t get why she would be on the hook to pay it.

    5. ArtK*

      My employer’s setup sounds like the OP’s. Card is in my name. I spend the money on the card and then file an expense report. The company then pays the CC directly. I may have to pay the CC some money if I splurged on a meal and went beyond the approved limits but that’s about it.

  16. Blondie*

    OP4 – I work for government in Australia and all our interview questions are ‘tell us about a time/give an example’ etc. The best way to answer them is using the STAR technique – Situation, Task, Action, Result. I normally go into an interview looking at the key skills in the job description and have a few answers ready that can be used for multiple answers. ie – difficult co-worker, project management, implementing a new system. And then I run through STAR in my head answering making sure I have covered of what happened, what I did and the result. Hope this helps!

    1. cubone*

      This is the way! It gets rid of the part where you have to spontaneously recall events from memory. Prep by thinking of some of your most challenging, most rewarding, most unique “experiences” and practice telling them like a story with STAR. You can also write them out and give them “tags” – stuff like Leadership, Team Conflict, etc (what skill is most represented here?) and then your brain just has to select a story from your little brain filing cabinet.

      It’s truly the BEST interview prep because once you do it once, you have these notes and stories forever and can apply them to many different jobs. My interview prep now just consists of job/company specific research, and reviewing these STAR stories I’ve done a hundred times (and not to be egotistical, but I have a very high interview to job offer success rate).

      1. BethDH*

        This is a reminder of how much job prep is an up-front investment. I’ve gotten good at adding things to a massive “everything CV” as they happen, and I think maybe this is the year I start a similar bullet list for examples — maybe not as they happen, but as they occur to me organically in conversations with friends and colleagues. When I’m thinking of examples for interviews, my brain often goes to the highest conflict/most stressful examples, but the ones where I end up pulling on past experience and that demonstrate my skills are often more mundane. It’s not the conflict with a truly aggressive coworker that’s likely to occur again, but the miscommunication confusion.

        1. cubone*

          I think your last point is so true and valuable. Of course the high stress, high conflict scenarios jump out, but also the “my boss and I disagreed on the format for a template” or “my employee was always late with their timesheet” or whatever. That’s why I think good prompts shouldn’t just be conflict, but what challenged you, what are you proud of, what changed your way of thinking. I have a few stories that are really like, this is how I handled it and to be honest, I know now that wasn’t the best way and here’s what happened and how I grew/fixed it. Showing learning is important.

    2. Green Post-Its*

      I got given some really good advice. If you’re in a field where you need to use STAR to describe a complicated or detailed situation , start with a summary to give your interviewer a roadmap.

      Instead of “in June I was looking at improving sales of xyz […]” start with “Last year we had some supply chain problems, but I increased sales of xyz 10%” and then STAR.

      This works really well to keep you on track. And the interviewer is more likely to remember your achievement.

  17. Not Australian*

    Come to think of it, a long time ago I *did* combine an admin job with cleaning. OTOH:
    1) My boss knew I’d appreciate a chance to earn some extra money
    2) It was for a short time only – three months IIRC
    3) I was able to do it at the weekends.
    In other words, he treated it as a separate job which I was free to turn down if I liked.

    It worked quite well, too, until the river broke its banks and the building was flooded…

  18. LL*

    #3 – you can make the minimum payment yourself and the credit card company will send you a check when the full balance is paid by your employer. I had a coworker who never submitted his expenses and this is what he did.

    1. Perfectly Particular*

      Amex corporate does not work this way. There is no minimum payment, the balance is always due in full, and they apparently don’t send overages to the employee. I have had an $8 credit on my corporate card for like 4 years now due to some issue with the billing for our conference call subscription that was later resolved.

    2. The Ghost of Cable Street*

      Presumably he had to pay the interest charges too. I wouldn’t be happy getting stuck with interest charges if the company failed to pay the card on time.

    3. Bagpuss*

      hat would avoid the worst issues with having a default show on your credit record, but it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue as the outstanding balance would be relevant to a mortgage application.

      Pretty sure that here, having a £1,500 credit card debt that wasn’t cleared at the end of the month would mean that you’d be able to borrow at least £1,500 less on your mortgage, as they look at total debt . It might not be a lot in the context of a mortgage but it could make a difference especially if you are borrowing towards the top end of your affordability.
      When I sold my last house, the original buyer pulled out because their mortgage offer was pulled – which happened because they had spent on credit cards so failed the final credit check . It was a pain in butt for me , as we were quite far along in the sale process, but much more for them, I assume!

      1. BethDH*

        From what I understand though, this is often figured as a percentage of your available credit, which is presumably high on a corporate card. But maybe that’s different where you are.

        1. Bagpuss*

          I think they also look at the affordability of the total debt – so if they take they view that your max. capacity is £150,000 then if you are using some of that capacity with other borrowings, , it reduces the amount they will lend you as a mortgage.

          I think they do also look at what your debt is as a percentage of your available credit, so having £1,500 on a card with a £5,000 limit can be helpful as it suggests you aren’t maxxing out your credit to get by, but I think they are two separate but related things they consider.

  19. WellRed*

    I’m now trying to think of a “tell me about a time” situation I could answer (that would be relevant). My job isn’t perfect but it’s fairly well oiled and crises ( using the term broadly) are rare and usually handled by my boss or higher. Previous jobs are so long ago I simply don’t remember. I Better do some research.

    1. ecnaseener*

      This type of question isn’t always going to be about a crisis! A lot of times it’s more mundane challenges, like dealing with a disgruntled client or handling an unexpected urgent project on top of other duties.

      1. DKLKEK*

        Even if the question is about a crisis, you can usually sub in a situation that could have become a crisis and how you recognized that and prevented it.

        Won’t work if you are applying for like an EMS job, but otherwise hits the relevant marks.

    2. londonedit*

      Yeah, in my line of work you’re rarely asked about actual crises, more challenges that you’ve had to overcome and that can reasonably be expected to crop up in the role you’re interviewing for. So things like ‘tell me about a time when you had to communicate a difficult decision to someone’ or ‘tell me about a time when something’s run late and what impact that had’ or ‘tell me about a time when you had to juggle competing deadlines’.

      1. londonedit*

        And then follow-up questions like ‘have you dealt with many difficult authors?’ or ‘how would your approach change if it was a colleague who had failed to deliver something?’

    3. Purple Cat*

      These questions definitely aren’t always crisis related – although that might be one of them.
      Some examples Tell me about a time:
      – you worked with a difficult employee
      – you had to juggle conflicting priorities
      – you made/found a mistake at work
      – convince someone your proposal is correct

      1. stefanielaine*

        I always ask the question about a time you made a mistake and how you handled it because a few years ago an otherwise promising candidate told me he had *never made a mistake.* I clarified multiple times that we really did want an answer and gave him ample opportunity to reverse course and he just kept insisting that he doesn’t make mistakes. That was a close one.

    4. Tortally HareBrained*

      One set of these questions we really like to ask is about times you’ve worked on a project alone and how you organized your tasks, and then about a time you worked in a group to accomplish a project and your role in that. We even ask this of student employees knowing they will reference school work – but it is a good look into how they work with others and how self organized/motivated they can be.

    5. BethDH*

      I try to think relevance rather than “big deal.” Who will I be working with most in the job (my own team, alone, with representatives of other departments, with members of the public?) and what sorts of tasks will I be doing and what kinds of handling would they need (did I need to coordinate deadlines with others, keep external contractors on schedule, communicate status reliably on a solo project?). Then pick examples that remind me of those situations and remember the conflicts that came up naturally. When I think “conflict” from the start I often end up focusing on the ones that ended up still going badly, not the ones where I actually think I did it right!

  20. Jaxgma*

    As a former mortgage underwriter, may I also suggest that the LW could reach out to the mortgage company to let them know what’s happening. Let them know that “if XYZ credit card happens to appear on my credit report, it’s actually my company’s corporate travel card that was issued in my name. My company is responsible for paying it on time and I’m urging them to do that.” Keep copies of your email correspondence with your accounts payable dept as back up. That said, I kind of doubt a corporate card will show up on the LW’s credit report, if he/she is not responsible for paying it. The card should have the company’s name, with her name beneath.

    1. anonymous73*

      That’s what didn’t make to me. The account is with the company…why would it affect her credit?

      1. Dain*

        We went through this last year with my husband when he was out on medical leave. Even though it is a company card, his name is on it and we most definitely got several angry letters from Visa because a payment was several months late. He couldn’t log into his expense accounts because he read on medical leave.
        It definitely showed up on his credit report and it’s been over a year and we’re still trying to get it removed

      2. MicroManagered*

        I thought this too. Anyone I’ve ever known who had a “company card” had just a card with their name on it, as an authorized user. It wasn’t their personal credit card account that was tied to their SSN / credit score. It MAY be worth it for OP3 to ask when she gets one of those calls, whether it’s truly HER card or an authorized user on the company account.

      3. Curious*

        Perhaps because the account is *guaranteed by* the employer, but the employee is the primary obligor.

  21. Delta Delta*

    #1 – I hate to jump right to this, but OP needs to GTFO ASAP.

    The fact that management sprung this on her after being hired is no good. But there also seems to have been wider communication to the rest of the office that OP’s job includes parking lot cleaning and trash duty. OP can’t professionally recover from this misinformation within the office, and will probably always be seen as filling a role she wasn’t hired for. this was set up for failure from the jump.

    1. Old-Lady*

      I second this.
      The cleaning company was probably given a months notice that their services would no longer be needed.
      The current employees were told it was going away and when they asked who was going to clean because they were not going to clean, were probably told that the new admin would.
      OP starts their new job.
      Cleaning contract ends a month later.
      Boss says, oh you now deep clean also.
      Make this your bosses problem while you look for another job
      1. Ask what deep clean means to your boss. May require OSHA certs.
      2. Ask for a schedule (when do they expect this to get done? Are they talking OT hours or during your admin hours?)
      3. Ask about dress code. I do not wear the same clothes to receive clients as I do to scrub toilets.
      4. Ask every question in the book that a house keeper would ask when taking on a new job.

      Boss wants a cleaning schedule. What does deep cleaning look like to you boss? Awe man! Looks like I need to get a cert for that level. When do I start official cert training for that? Boss, you have arranged that right?
      OSHA may not allow me to clean at that level without a cert in it.

      What frequency do you want the office cleaned?
      What tools and supplies are here? Mop, vacuum, etc. Most offices only have the basics.
      Boss, it looks like you need to order professional cleaning supplies. If they put it on you, order the best quality and best brand names available. $$$$$
      So you want the parking lot cleaned also? When? Where are the tools? Who does the admin work while I am cleaning the parking lot? Oh, so you want this done before work, after work, weekends. Would I be getting time and a half for overtime for doing this?
      Who does the admin work while I am cleaning the office? Oh, so you want this done before work, after work, weekends. Would I be getting time and a half for overtime for doing this?

      I was also once asked if I wanted a make a little extra money working on the side cleaning the building on weekends. This doesn’t sound like your boss is asking you if you want a side gig.

  22. KHB*

    Q5: (This comment is more for the deadline setters than the deadline meeters.) If you’re really counting on being able to review something in the evening on the day it’s due, I strongly recommend making the deadline a specific time, like 4:00, rather than “close of business.” Two reasons for that:

    First is that unless you’re in an office with a very rigidly defined schedule, “close of business” is fuzzy. If it’s just whatever time a particular person stops working for the day, who’s to say that’s not 11:00 pm?

    Second is that when somebody misses a close of business deadline (or interprets “close of business Monday” to mean “9:00 am Tuesday,” which in my experience many people do), then by definition you don’t know about it until after they’ve signed off for the day, so there’s not much you can do in the moment. Whereas if they’re late on a 4:00 deadline, you can message them at 4:05 to ask what’s up. Even if the work still isn’t ready, that at least reinforces that when you ask for something by 4:00, you really mean you want it by 4:00.

    1. Llellayena*

      Yep, this is why I set my deadlines for 3pm on the day it’s due. Because I need to package it with other submissions and get it out to someone else. After the first project I ran with a Friday end-of-day deadline where I was sitting at my desk at 8pm still waiting for half of what I needed, my deadlines are never on Friday and never end of day.

    2. Purple Cat*

      I work for a global company and get sucked into endless meetings so by “eod” for me will often literally be midnight.
      Also clarify for anyone working on a project what the deadline is actually representing. Someone might assume it’s just their piece that’s due on 1/5 when in reality the entire deliverable is due on 1/5 so the manager needs individual pieces by 1/3 to combine into the final piece. More specificity rather than less benefits everybody.

  23. anonymous73*

    #5 Make the date, time and TIME ZONE clear with deadlines so there’s no confusion. I work 8-4 EST. For me COB is 4pm. I also work with a team in Texas, so my COB is 3pm their time. Yes your client asking where her project was at 6am on the due date is odd, but just be specific in the future and you can avoid any potential issues with expectations.

  24. Essess*

    For number 5, it depends on the wording. If someone needs something “by Feb 1”, then they need to have it to for them to use on Feb 1. Giving it to them at the end of the day misses that deadline. If it’s due “on Feb 1”, then it should be appropriate to give any time on Feb 1.

    1. Lab Boss*

      That’s how I’d interpret it as well, but I can see how “by Feb 1” could go either way. Even “Due on Feb 1” could mean “so I have time to review on Feb 1” or “by COB Feb 1” or “Before we open on Feb 2.” It’s really a good case for why both ends of the transaction should use more precise language so there’s clarity.

    2. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

      See I would say the opposite. If someone says get this to me by Feb 1. I think I have up to and including feb 1. That’s what I mean when I give people a deadline. If you need to review it because the next step is due Feb 2 you should really give a buffer time. That way if something happens no one is scrambling at the last minute

    3. The OTHER Other*

      As we’ve seen in this thread, that distinction between “on” or “by” x date is by no means universally understood, and easily missed. If you told me “February 1st”, whether “on” or “by”, I would be mighty peeved if I got an email at 6am on the 1st asking “where is it?”

      We’ve had many other letters about deadlines, especially when bosses/clients give a deadline of Feb 1st but they really mean some other much earlier (yet unmentioned) date because THEY need to review or add material or get approvals etc. If you need it at the beginning of the 1st as opposed to end of day, just say so.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      While I don’t disagree with all y’all talking about things due “by” a certain date vs due “on” a certain date and what those two things mean, I cannot think of a deadline I’ve been given that was phrased either way. It’s always just “due September 33rd” or whatever. All the more reason for OP to be more specific when discussing deadlines with clients as there seems to be a disconnect between what the client expects and what the OP expects.
      That said, in my mind, absent an explict “by” or “before”, I would assume “on” even if the date were given without preposition.

  25. Pretty Haired Lady*

    #5, I went from a company that took “Feb 1st” as COB on the 1st to my current company which uses it as in needs to be submitted by COB Jan 31st. I was so confused the first time I was told I missed a deadline while in the process of sending it on the day. Now I’m cautious to be more explicit with deadlines to make sure everyone is on the same page.

  26. Lab Boss*

    OP3: Absolutely loop your boss in. Not only might they be able to “enthusiastically motivate” the finance people, they may be able to steer you to some alternate solutions you wouldn’t normally have access to. When a similar situation happened to me, my boss was able to go over everyone’s heads to get me directly reimbursed from petty cash, allowing me to pay the bill myself, cancelling the entire process that had stalled in the usual channels.

  27. irene adler*

    For #4- thank you for asking this!

    Some of the second round interviews (the interview after the phone screen) I have experienced, consisted entirely of behavioral questions (I think there were 15-18 of these questions asked). And, yep! I was at a loss for finding examples for each question they asked. I had to double up a few times. Also a bit surprised that these questions were the ENTIRE interview. (Can we talk about the job itself, maybe????)

    So, would it be acceptable to ask about behavioral questions when I’m scheduling that second interview? Talking about things like: if there will be any behavioral questions, approximately how many, and… can these questions be provided -ahead of time- so that I may find suitable responses for them.

    In addition, as a standard practice, would it be acceptable to ask about what type of interview the second round will be?

  28. MollyG*

    It is very common, yet still ethically wrong to make your employees pay business expenses, especially large ones, out of pocket and then apply for reimbursement. Business CCs need to be billed directly to the company.

    1. ECE Policy Wonk*

      Not to mention an equity issue. No big deal for the CEO to pay out of pocket, but the AA is not in the same financial position.

    2. fueled by coffee*

      Absolutely, although it sounds like LW’s company is technically *supposed* to pay the bill, but hasn’t.

      Coming from academia, this kind of behavior is all too real. As a grad student, I am supposed to pay for travel expenses up front and submit for reimbursement, then cross my fingers and pray that the reimbursement comes through in time for me to pay my bills and still make rent. My university knows EXACTLY how much money they pay me and how much the ~$1,000 conference travel costs are in comparison to that, and still insist on taking out interest free loans from me rather than paying for things like airfare and hotel rooms upfront themselves.

    3. Lora*

      Used to work for a startup that did not have any revenue and investors were starting to get frustrated with lack of progress. The signal to Get Out Now was, late reimbursement on expenses. They actually made us put expenses on personal cards and then reimbursed us, and then we were getting reimbursed slower and slower…until those of us who had to do a lot of travel were carrying several thousand dollars on our credit cards month over month waiting for reimbursements. About the same time, they changed their Accounts Payable terms to pay vendors much later, and several key vendors terminated our accounts entirely for nonpayment. Four months later they laid off 1/3 of the company, and six months after that they folded. Technically the economy was recovering from the Great Recession but it sure wasn’t 100%. Everyone who started looking for a new job as soon as their reimbursements weren’t being paid in a timely manner, found something else that was reasonably OK and didn’t spend any time unemployed. People who waited to be laid off with no severance, with the company still owing them thousands they never got paid back, then had to weather months of unemployment and take jobs that weren’t optimal.

      OP, I would consider this a big red flag that the company itself isn’t stable. This is something that should be at the top of the “bills to pay” just like payroll.

    4. Generic Name*

      I agree. It’s super shitty to expect a low level employee to provide interest free business loans to their employer. I had a coworker who basically said to his boss that he couldn’t afford to front the company $500+ every month for field equipment and he needed to use a company card (one that was issued in the company’s name). At another job, a coworker simply told the company he did not have a credit card and made the company pay his travel expenses and give him an allowance up front. I know in the second case, our boss was pretty salty about it, but I think that’s because he didn’t like having to do work in general, so filling out the paperwork to make it happen felt onerous to him. I really admired both of these employees for refusing to be taken advantage of.

    5. Stitch*

      I’ve mentioned this before, but my husband in part left a job because of this. They’d be late in reimbursing expenses from international travel (so very high costs). Basically without my salary, we couldn’t make payments and in some cases had to carry over balances that would cost us in interest that wasn’t reimbursed. Your job shouldn’t be costing you money like that.

    6. Dragonfly7*

      This is unfortunately very normal in academia. Waiting on reimbursement for a conference registration right now, which will be delayed because two layers of people who do the approvals are out quarantining due to COVID.

    7. Snarky Snarkerson*

      I work for a large university in the US. When we get a travel card, the bills go to the university and they pay them. Then they bug you to complete the expense report so they know where to charge it. It’s the best system I’ve encountered because it absolutely is an equity issue.

  29. Evvie*

    I fully admit to not being an expert, but I’d check state laws for #1. While a basic bathroom clean, for instance, is normal…is a deep one allowed? Those require special chemicals. And what about bodily fluids? To what extent are you a) expected and b) allowed to clean those? If someone with a tummy issue has an explosion of some sort, are you supposed to clean it?

    And wtf is this about the parking lot??? Hard pass. People should just not throw their trash around, and employees feeling comfortable asking/telling someone to clean that up is absurd. What’s next?

    There’s a reason cleaning companies work nights, too. The chemicals can and do make people sick.

    I might be too invested because I once had to spend two *hours* cleaning out a staff microwave, haha!

  30. ResuMAYDAY*

    Credit issue: type up a letter explaining the company’s fault, have your boss or accounting manager sign it, and submit that to your loan officer. You’ll need this to get a credit waiver before you close on the new mortgage, even if the payments come through. You’ll have late payments that will require explanation. Do this today, to prevent any delays by the title company. (Former loan officer here.)

  31. ResuMAYDAY*

    OP4, these are called ‘behavioral interview questions’. Research this before your next interview to get a really good list of questions, and prepare for them.

  32. BlackBellamy*

    #1 I would go back the boss and tell him you will no longer be doing any “light cleaning” duties except for your own desk and personal area. Tell him that after thinking about it “removing fecal matter” was not something that you wanted to specialize in as part of your further career development. Tell him if this is not acceptable then you understand and mention that his next ad should ask for a “Bathroom Cleaner with possible advancement into Administrative Assistant role” and he will get tons of candidates with great fecal matter removal skills because who doesn’t want to type on a computer instead of pushing a shitty mop.

    Seriously you have nothing to lose. Do that. It’s a coin flip you’ll wind up the boss of your life there.

    The guy straight out deceived you. He knew he wouldn’t get qualified people if he said oh yeah, if someone has diarrhea in the men’s room that will be your job. So he mentioned ‘light cleaning’ to prime you and get your consent. Now like Vader he’s altering the deal. Picking up trash in the parking lot is not ‘light cleaning’ either.

    1. The OTHER Other*

      “Seriously you have nothing to lose.” —Hard disagree. The LW a may need this job. I basically agree with all the points about this being terrible and unreasonable behavior by this boss and workplace, but this kind of confrontational (and flippant) tone would probably get the OP a fired immediately. This is someone’s job we are talking about here. Maybe YOU a don’t need it, but OP is probably not thinking there’s nothing to lose here.

      Even in this economy there are many places and fields where good jobs are not so easy to come by.

      1. irene adler*

        Thank you for pointing out that some people do need to hang onto the job they have. And they write in to find ways to make the best of a bad or difficult situation.

  33. Bookworm*

    OP1: I don’t really have much to add but agree that your boss shouldn’t have put this on you and should rehire a cleaning service (many of them probably need the work!). That your colleagues also treat you similarly would make it seem that this not a good working place (regardless of what you decide to do and regardless of whether a cleaning service is hired) and you should get out ASAP.

    Good luck! I’m so sorry that is happening to you.

  34. Not That Bob Ross*

    For Question #2: This may have been answered here already, but does anyone know what the rules are for what states? Or does someone know a resource that has this information? TIA!

    1. irene adler*

      I found a website: called that has a summary of each state’s laws. Link in next post.

  35. AndersonDarling*

    #4 I’ve grown to like behavioral questions as a candidate and as an interviewer. These questions get people talking about real world experiences and how they think through problems.
    In my field, it’s common for junior specialists to take credit for projects where they only had a small part to play. When I ask these questions, I want to confirm that candidates haven’t exaggerated on their resumes. Asking real world questions will expose liars quickly and also raise up superstars. For example, if the resume relies heavily on a major project for the VP of sales, I’ll ask “Tell me about a time when you worked one on one to complete a project for an executive? Did you run into communication problems? Were you able to complete the project on time?” If they don’t have details and say everything went perfectly, then I’ll get suspicious and ask deeper questions. But they may relay some tough situations and difficult conversations that they had to work through, and then I know they are honest and understand the reality of our field.
    I also like to ask why the candidates chose their professions and what they like/don’t like about it. It’s all to get people talking. An interview is just talking, so the more a candidate says, the more confident I can be in a decision.

  36. SawbonzMD*

    The job I held between my senior year of high school and my sophomore year of college was as a server at, let’s call it Hizza Put. Part of my job was to clean the bathrooms. Didn’t like it, of course, but I did it.

    Fast forward to the summer between sophomore year and junior year of college where I got a job in a research lab. When I was learning the ropes, I asked the person who was showing me around how often I needed to clean the bathrooms. The guy looked at me like I had three

    1. Dragonfly7*

      Some of my coworkers did this to an intern when she asked about vacuuming the floor. We forget about the privileges we have.

  37. Phony Genius*

    On #3, if the company fails to fix this in time, what recourse (if any) does the employee have?

    1. EnginerdGal*

      None, really IF the card is in fact in his name as the responsible party. I’m a govt. contractor and most of my companies have given me a card, and while it’s in my name and I sign an agreement that I won’t abuse it, etc… they typically are the ones responsible as guarantors of payment, and some of them paid it directly, some didn’t. If the company is NOT a guarantor of payment and it’s going to impact the OP’s credit, *IF* he can afford it, he should pay it and then reimburse himself with the eventual payout. I recognize some people can’t, if they’re living paycheck to paycheck.

  38. JelloStapler*

    LW1- they are saving money on your back and not giving you any compensation even IF you were willing to do it. Ridiculous.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yup. Nothing like a company getting interest free business loans on the backs of their workers. A lot of places I’ve worked did things this way, and the people doing most of the purchasing grumble about it because it’s a hardship while management who makes the policies (and have high salaries) love it because they have no problems paying a few extra $K a month and they get the points for travel or free stuff. It’s yet another system that benefits the wealthy while hurting the less well off.

  39. Cold Fish*

    Sorry if repeat, I haven’t read any comments yet but… regarding #5
    The answer to this may be industry dependent. In my line of work, if the customer tells me the project is due on Feb 1st, that means they have to submit on that date and I need to get my things to them no later than Jan 31st. LW might want to clarify with some people in their line of work to figure out what’s normal or not.

  40. Bernice Clifton*

    #1 – I would encourage you to look for another job, even if you follow Alison’s advice and it works. There are two huge things wrong with this situation that you don’t have to put up with.

    – I’m a career admin/exec asst/office manager, and there ARE organizations out there that will treat you with dignity and respect and value your work; where people won’t rudely order around because they think you’re “just a secretary”. From your question, you are clearly good at written communication and able to problem solve and look at the big picture which are so important for your job.

    – I have a very strong suspicion that your boss always intended you to do more than “light cleaning” but he didn’t tell you that because he was afraid that you wouldn’t take the job. So you even if you get out of cleaning, you know that your boss is willing to lie to you to get what he wants.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Yeah, this is sketch. Light cleaning for an admin to me, is say, the receptionist wiping the spilled coffee from the coffee bar in the lobby. And maybe being the one sending out the emails that say get rid of your old food from the fridge. Nothing harder than a spritz of windex and a papertowel.

  41. Dragonfly7*

    Commiserating with OP #3. My ex is a teacher, and they are expected to float $3K to $7K in expenses per year for a sports team on a personal credit card until the school district gets around to reimbursing them in Apri-June. Of course, the school district doesn’t reimburse them for the credit card interest. My ex’s refusal to push back against this, especially for that amount of money, and the result it had on our credit is a large factor in why we divorced.

    1. Chriama*

      Yeah, there must have been another way to do that. Either your ex or their employer just didn’t care enough to sort it out. That would be a good way to get me to stop coaching the sports team!

  42. Noname*

    #5 In every deadline situatin I’ve ever encountered, “by” means before, as in by EOB the day before. “On” means on that actual day, meaning by EOB on that day. This might be where your client was coming from.

  43. J!*

    In my department we have a process we go through with people to ask what the deadline is and the context for that deadline. “I need X by February 1st because we want to start strategic planning the following week and I need to review it” has a different urgency/deliverable than “I need X by February 1st because we’re doing a presentation that afternoon and need it to share with that group.”

        1. Lobsterman*

          Over $1500? Threatening my mortgage? Over 90 days?

          Yes, absolutely. The original setup was ripe for abuse and they abused it.

  44. Observer*

    OP, I haven’t read all of the comments so I hope I’m repeating what others have said.

    Firstly, I don’t think you have to pay attention when people tell you to pick up stuff from the parking lot. None of these people have standing to order you around (even aside from the rudeness) so you can feel free to cheerfully ignore them.

    If Alison’s scripts don’t work ask your boss which work to drop so you can do the cleaning? I mean, it’s going to HAVE to take you at least as many hours as you used to pay the service, in order to do at least a minimally adequate job. At minimum that had to be 6 hours a week (probably more). That’s a chunk of time that needs to be made up.

  45. EnginerdGal*

    Re: the credit card, if you have the means, can you just go ahead and pay it and then reimburse yourself with the company funds? OR does your company pay the credit card company directly? If that’s the case, I’d call the CC company and say, “there’s been a delay in processing my travel reimbursement” and they *should* note your account and work with you if you aren’t the paying party. My former company paid the card directly and then deposited the non-charged amount (per diem) directly into my bank account. I never had an issue with calling AmEx and later Chase when they were late. But, if YOU are the responsible party and pay it out of what you’re paid back, I’d try if at all possible (and I know it isn’t for everyone) to just pay it myself.

  46. I'm just here for the cats*

    So I really don’t understand the credit card thing. It’s my understanding that a company card is the sole responsibility of the company. I don’t have a card but I’ve dealt with the cards enough. What we do at my job is the person uses the card, then when the bill comes (in their name) the attach any of the required paperwork (forms, receipts, etc) to the bill and I take it to Business Services to pay. If Business Services doesn’t pay it, it doesn’t come back on the employee.

    This is really stupid and as Alison suggested I wouldn’t use the card anymore

  47. Chilipepper Attitude*

    For #1 – show a schedule for the dates you intend to bring in professionals to do a deep clean. With a tone of, of course they did not mean for you to do it.

  48. Isabel Archer*

    Rude Colleague: “I just saw trash in the parking lot. Go pick it up.”
    OP#1: “What a coincidence. I’m looking at a huge pile of garbage right now.”

  49. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

    Ooh, I was on an entry level position hiring committee. We did the ‘tell us about a time you had a conflict with someone and how you resolved it” question and man, that question was like red flag central. We had one respond with ‘I never have conflicts, I am always right’ we had another that told us that he has issues with non-native speakers (it was something like he ended up just doing everything for his group project in college because it was too obnoxious to spend time working with them) and another group project one that derailed into his belief that ‘women shouldn’t be in STEM majors.’

    So since then, I just see them more as a way to weed out crazy people. Also, now that I think about it, there was a good amount of conflict in our office (because we were a contractors to a government agency and there was a government person who LOVED to pick fights with contractors to assert that he was better than us), so you might be able to read it as ‘here’s some issues that we’re currently dealing with, so get ready!’

  50. The Dogman*


    Slight disagreement in language suggestions

    ““This is jeopardizing my mortgage and must be fixed ASAP. How can YOU make sure it’s paid today?””

    I use the YOU since it would put the onus on the finance people, not use language that may let them mentally assign the issue to LW#3 rather than take the responsibility they should be owning.

  51. Chriama*

    #3 — I am so confused at how common it seems to be to issue a corporate credit card in the name of an employee. Given that America allows corporations to be considered “people” in the legal sense, I would assume they can get cards in the company’s own name. If the company doesn’t pay the card (or goes bankrupt, or shuts down), debt collectors go after the employee. Why on earth would it be a matter of course to put personal liability on employees like that?

    1. Bamcheeks*

      Someone said further up that it reduces the company’s liability if the employee goes nuts and makes a load of unauthorised personal charges on the card. But it’s a heck of an overreaction to put ALL of your staff’s credit scores at risk because of the chances of one bad actor.

  52. Elizabeth West*

    #2–I’ve started asking about salary upfront if it’s not posted, mostly because the majority of jobs I’m applying to are out of state. If I have some idea of what it pays, then I also know what kind of housing I can afford.

    I mean, it really stinks; professional adults should get paid well and housing shouldn’t be so expensive, but for now, those are calculations I have to make regardless of where the job is located. If I can’t live with the range, then it makes sense to know before advancing in the process. I can opt out and save both myself and the interviewer some time.

    I do get the “What are you looking for?” question sometimes, but the worst is “We don’t have a range.” YOU TOTALLY DO JUST TELL ME IT GAAAHHH

  53. TootsNYC*

    Re: the “tell me about a time” questions:

    Before your interview, take a look through your experience, and find the big achievements, etc., that you can work up into a (short) story that demonstrated your skills, ability, personality.

    Spend a little time thinking about what sorts of questions an interviewer might ask, based on the position you’re applying for (applying for managing editor: tell me about an innovation you made; applying for an office manager: tell me about a time you worked with someone difficult) as well as in general.

    Work up those stories. Then you’ll have three or four of them, and some of them can be adapted to fit the question you didn’t anticipate.

  54. traveler*

    There is a high chance that the credit card company is saying they will do this to your credit just to try to get you to pay it. I have a corporate card but know for a fact that even if my company never pays the bill it cannot ding my credit. My credit wasn’t pulled and they don’t have my SSN. If it is truly a corporate card then they can’t ding your credit.

  55. Done*

    We have corporate cards at my company and they don’t even have the employees ssn. They could not sing credit. The credit card company is being shady IMO.

  56. Candi*

    OP#1: One way to push back is to make an outline of everything he’s asking you to do, admin and janitorial, give an approximate time frame for each (don’t fudge to make it shorter -you want real times), and then ask him how he expects you to get everything done. Politely, of course.

    I worked as a housekeeper, and what you’re describing would have taken me by myself 4-6 hours in any decent-sized office, factoring in the requested deep clean. (But I’m in WA, where I get legally scheduled breaks, and oh yes I take them. 10 minute breaks, 30 for lunch.) Those seams where the floor and wall meet and behind the toilets are the worst.

    You, by definition, cannot be physically greeting visitors to the office when in the bathroom, and often cannot answer a phone, even if you forward your desk phone to a cell -you do NOT want cleaning fluids on your electronics, or to risk dropping them in a toilet or bucket.

    AND, you said they used to use a cleaning service. Do they even have anything more than a basic broom and dustpan? Do they have the heavy duty supplies on hand you’ll need, particularly for a deep clean? Do they have some cock-eyed idea of you paying for the supplies? (Don’t do that: their circus, they should feed the monkeys.) Do they even understand not to mix bleach and ammonia?

  57. Carp*

    #1 – I believe there is supposed to be blood borne pathogens training and possibly other training related to touching and being exposed to bodily fluids of others. There are certain tasks that only trained custodians and other properly trained individuals are allowed to do. As it is, I would totally be looking for another job; given your coworkers are already expecting you to provide custodial services, it doesn’t really sound like the org is going to take your “no” seriously. What a crap situation.

    #2 – when I served on hiring committees, it was such a relief when candidates asked about salary and then when our company allowed us to give a range. We had a guy find out the salary range during the phone interview and hang up on us. That was far better than the time we flew a person in from across the country, who found out about the salary range on day 1 of a two-day interview and visibly checked out. Or when we would interview 3 people who all turned us down at the end of that long process because of salary and we had to start the whole process over again. Our org eventually mandated that we give the salary range during phone interviews, because it was so expensive to bring candidates on site, house them, feed them, and then have them nope out. Ask!

  58. Chickaletta*

    Commenting as an EA:

    #1 This is BS. The work they’re asking you to do is outside the norms for this profession. We will do light tidying up in our boss’ offices and conference rooms, and I’ll break out the disinfecting wipes before/after meetings these days, but stuff like what you’re describing is akin to asking an accountant to balance everyone’s personal checkbook or having HR cook lunch for the office.

    #3 At our company, the credit cards are in the employee’s name and the bill comes to the employee to pay personally, then they submit the expense to the company for reimbursement. If your name is on the credit card, I would think you’d want control paying it for exactly your situation.

    #4 It’s already been covered a lot in the responses, but I agree that behavioral interviews are a really great tool and have helped me weed out candidates whose responses about what they did in real situations raised my eyebrow. If you are entry-level and don’t have enough experience to provide an example, then it’s fine to answer theoretically as long as you say that’s what you’re doing. But try to come up with an example if at all possible. I’ve even used a volunteer experience in one of my examples and it turned out fine. To keep from getting stumped during the interview, think through a bunch of scenarios ahead of time that can be used to answer typical interview questions. Be sure to think of the struggles and challenges you’ve faced too, not just your “wins”.

    1. Daffodilly*

      You are so so wrong about #3. Employees should NOT be expected to float company expenses. Many. many people could not afford to have their money tied up paying company travel expenses waiting for the company to reimburse.
      The answer is NOT for employees to pay. The answer is for companies to pay their own damn expenses instead of expecting employees to pay for it.
      A company that drags their feet paying a credit card bill is a company that will ALSO drag their feet reimbursing an employee, and that is every bit as bad.
      As others have said in this thread, it’s possible for a business to have a credit card that reflects on the BUSINESS if not paid. And that is how it should be done.
      If your company expects employees to pay for travel from their personal funds, you need to put a stop to that IMMEDIATELY.

      1. Carp*

        Yeah, I’m also side-eyeing any company that wants me to float their expenses. My old company had company credit cards with the company name and department on them. We booked our own hotels, booked our own flights, bought our own materials, etc using that credit card. When we traveled, we took one of the cards with us and used it for everything. No one had a company card with their name on it. At my current company, I have to submit information for conferences and travel, and the board approves it, the business office takes care of all the details, our admin registers us, and we go. I prefer my old company’s method but whatever.

    2. KatieP*

      I have to agree with Daffodilly, here. The whole point of getting a travel credit card from the company is so that the employee is never out the funds for the trip. This is especially valuable to low-level employees who may not be able to shoulder a $4K trip on a monthly income of $5K. If the employee is going to have to pay for the charges up front, they can use their own cards (and collect whatever rewards their preferred card offers, for themselves).

      I manage my department’s credit cards (we have a couple of hundred at any given time). All have the employee’s name on them, but none of them are tied to the employee’s credit. If we’re late with a payment, it only affects my employer’s credit rating, not the employee. We’ve been manging our credit cards this way for roughly 20 years, so this isn’t a new thing.

  59. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

    Many, many decades ago, while working for a small accounting firm, my employer handed me a bucket and told me to go wash his car; he was going with his wife to the casino that night.

    At the time I was wearing professional attire (suit and tie). I gathered my few belongings, took my stuff, the bucket and car keys and went to the parking lot. I placed the bucket (and car washing accoutrements) with the car keys, locked them in the car and drove my car home.

    When I got home, I called the guy in the next cubicle and told him to pass the message that “I quit” when the boss starts looking for me and his car keys.

    Decades later and it still feels good.

    PS… I had a new job in 10 days.

  60. Courageous cat*

    I’m so confused. I’ve had a company cc in my name and it didn’t tie to my credit at all. I didn’t have to apply for it, didn’t have to give any personal details, etc. I was just an authorized user. Is that somehow not the case here? Is that always the case?

  61. Anonymous Bosch*

    I would expect the AA to take care of things like making sure there was coffee and that the pots were clean, maybe wiping down counters in the coffee area/kitchenette, dumping leftover food at the end of the week if there a refrigerator, etc.

    Those are the kinds of things that other employees might do on a rotating basis if there was no AA or receptionist whose regular duties they were.

    The idea of an office worker doing deep cleaning other than in their own home is preposterous.

  62. Dana Whittaker*

    LW1: In the BC times (2016), I worked for a small 4-person (including me) architectural/engineering firm as office manager/HR/AP/AR/invoicing/bookkeeping/facilities. I did clean the office (bathrooms, trash, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, water the plants), but then again, so had the retiring 65yo male office manager I was succeeding for the prior 4 years. 2008 decimated the architectural industry, and the two owners were each holding 4-5 paychecks to keep the firm in the black, so office cleaners were not in the budget.

    As soon as the income allowed, we did hire an office cleaning person, and she was delightful, even though she had to come either after 5, before 9, or on weekends because the one owner would get 14 kinds of cranky if he heard vacuuming, or had to mind walking on a wet floor for 20 minutes <>.

    LW2: This was the same firm that wanted my personal SSN in order to issue me a company credit card. Bless their hearts ….. NO WAY. I rattled off the company FEIN in the pattern of SSN (###-##-#### instead of ##-#######) and neither credit card company ever commented on it. If they push for one at future positions, that is what I would do.

  63. KatieP*

    Letter #3 – as a travel card manager, I find the practice of applying for a credit card on the employee’s credit bizarre and irresponsible. We stopped doing it nearly two decades ago. Our travel and payment cards are all on the organization’s credit, with the employee’s name on the billing attention line. I would use this situation to try to leverage some change in how the organization manages their credit card program.

  64. Anonyer*

    #3 sounds like the company has terrible credit because they can’t afford their bills and now need their employees to use their own credit for “company cards.” LW is never going to see the money without a lawsuit. I’d pay the card, sue, and find a new job. This is not legal advice.

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